October 25, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from October 23-29 are provided by Pastor Charles Choe of Tapestry Church, Los Angeles. Charles, a graduate of UC Riverside and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace, and they have three children: Chloe, Noah, and Camden.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Genesis 15:9-21

He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

An early crush I had in the seventh grade was a young blond name Tammy. She, to my shock, reciprocated my feelings. So we started passing notes between classes and eventually started “dating.” (I had no idea what that meant; I just knew it meant we had feelings for each other.) Things were going well, until one day after school—on a public bus no less— I heard the crushing news that she was beginning to develop feelings for one of my closest friends. It was devastating; I had never felt so much heartache before. It wouldn’t be the last time I would be disappointed with unrequited “love,”— but this first one really stung.

In our story today, we find God is prepared to show the extent of His love. It starts with Abraham carrying animals to be sacrificed. In verse 10, Abraham—with a sharp blade—carves the animals in half. I can just imagine the smell, the sight of the warm blood soaking the soil, and the sound of groaning from the dying animals. All the work must have made him tired, as Abraham falls into deep sleep. Then the next event takes us to the whole point of this ceremony: “When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.  On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates’” (verses 17-18).

This is so understated, but in some cryptic way, the smoking pot and the blazing torch represents God—His visible manifestation passing between the pieces. To appreciate this, we have to know how covenants were sealed. Today, we use lawyers and legal documents, but back then, they would cut animals in half, and the two parties would walk through it—essentially saying, “Let it be done to me as it has been done to these animals if I break my oath.” And here, God condescends to reassure questioning man with a smoking fire pot and a blazing torch; God cuts a covenant with Abraham.

Here is what this is saying to us: The promise is that God loves us with a steadfast love. This is anchored in His own character—not in what we do or don’t do. His love is steadfast, unchanging, and reliable. This is the key to His covenant. This is why God’s covenant with us is not bilateral. Only God pledges and walks through—Abraham is utterly passive. God assumes full responsibility for the covenant. And do you know what this is called? Grace. One way love. So here’s the promise: God loves you and He always will.

Do you see what this is foreshadowing? Jesus. The Son of God’s flesh was torn like those animals. That was God fulfilling His promise: “I will be your God and you will be my people. I will rescue you, I will pour out my Spirit.” Every promise uttered was fulfilled in Christ. And we know this to be true by faith. Faith is God’s benevolence towards us; it’s founded on His promises and sealed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. And that’s the place where we have to go every day and let it capture our imagination, until more and more, it becomes our story.

Prayer: God, help me to see the many ways You are faithful to me today. In every moment of fear, help me to my knees so that I can surrender all of my fears and worries to you. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 18


Lunch Break Study

Read Galatians 3:13-20: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. 15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. 19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

Questions to Consider

  1. In verse 15, Paul first establishes the principle that even with a covenant among men, the covenant stands firm once it is made—no one annuls or adds to it. Why does Paul use this as an example?
  2. What purpose, then, does the law serve?
  3. What promise do you sense the Lord is telling you to hang on to?

Notes

  1. Paul’s point isn’t really about covenants among men, but he uses it as an example to say, “How much more will God keep His promises.”
  2. Part of the reason the law was given was to restrain the transgression of men through clearly revealing God’s holy standard. It was to keep us from destroying ourselves before the Messiah came. The law also clearly shows our rebellion against God’s holy standard, showing us more clearly our need for salvation in Jesus.
  3. Personal reflection.

Evening Reflection

“God’s plan is not to abandon this world, the world which he said was “very good.” Rather, he intends to remake it. And when he does he will raise all his people to new bodily life to live in it. That is the promise of the Christian gospel.” –N.T. Wright

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