AMI QT Devotionals for November 16-18 are provided by Pastor Paul Liu.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Same Old Struggles”
From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
I’m not sure about you, but if I could, I’d wear a t-shirt and jeans everyday. And not just any t-shirt and jeans—it has to be my favorite ones. Most people have clothes like that— comforting and comfortable—where you can’t wait to get out of your work clothes to put on these comfortable ones. That’s probably how Abraham felt about taking up his favorite defense mechanism for when the going got tough: he started lying. We see it happen in this text, as well as in Genesis 12:10-13: out of fear for his life, he tells Sarai to lie that she’s his sister and not his wife. It was like putting on a favorite t-shirt for Abraham—comfortable, even though it was a plan with holes all over it. Abraham panicked and chose deceit rather than truth.
Jerry Bridges tells us that one of the reasons why pursuing holiness is so hard is because we’ve built a lifetime of sinful habits. Yes, we have an Adversary attacking us; and yes, we’re in a spiritual battle; and yes, we have powerful resources for victory. But all of these truths are supported by the disciplines we choose. Lying to avoid confrontation became easier for Abraham through practice. It felt natural to do it, like it was part of his wardrobe for handling difficult situations. Even after God’s judgment on Sodom, in the heat of the moment, what came natural to Abraham was not the fear of God but the familiar habit of lying to save his skin. And if we are to change, we need to recognize that knowing what is right and acting on what we know are not always the same. It’s easy to judge Abraham for making the same mistake twice but we do it all the time as well.
We need to develop habits of self-examination as David did when he prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart” (Psalm 139:23); habits of prayerfulness and repenting for “any grievous way in me” (v.24a); and habits that help us appropriate God’s strength as David asked God, “lead me in the way everlasting” (v.24b).
Prayer: Lord, reveal to me today the habits of untruth that I often employ to protect myself. Expose to me the ugliness of my ways, so that I might repent and trust You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 15
Lunch Break Study
Read Psalm 139: O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar… 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me…
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you… 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Questions to Consider
- What would motivate a person to ask the Almighty God to search them?
- How does David’s understanding of God’s character lead to deeper faith?
- Does David’s request that God search him (v.23) inspire you or unnerve you? Why?
- Simply put—love. David loved God and he wanted his life to please Him.
- David reflects on God’s omnipresence (the fact that He’s everywhere) and omniscience (the fact that He knows everything), as beautiful and comforting. So in his desire to please God, David asks the all-knowing God to reveal his weaknesses so that he might grow in integrity and maturity.
Think about the moments in which the Holy Spirit revealed “grievous ways” in you today—attitudes or actions that were self-serving rather than God-honoring. Were you a repeat offender in any of these things? Don’t give up! Repent! Ask God to keep exposing that which does not please Him in you. And pray for strength to develop habits of integrity, honor, and truth.