The AMI QT Devotionals from November 20-26 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland. Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles). He is married to Christina.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Genesis 21.8-14 (ESV)
And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
Someone once told me marriage is hard because it is the first time that you are forced to truly live with yourself. And this realization of who we truly are is not always a fun experience. For me, I didn’t realize how much I had tailored my life to fit my needs and desires until this “customized” life began conflicting with my wife’s way of doing things. My preferences on where shoes are stored to how certain chores are done were different from my wife’s. And through this conflict of preferences, I came to realize how particular I could be and how deep my selfishness goes.
The truth is, the people in our lives are often the best reflections of our true character, especially those that we live in close proximity. Spouses are good examples, but so are co-workers, classmates, and even our friendships. Relationships become strained because they often show us the realest—and often darkest—parts of our character.
We see a true glimpse of who Sarah is in the passage by how she deals with Hagar. What triggers Sarah this time is the sight of Ishmael doing something in particular—laughing (v. 9). Now it’s not clear what the purpose of including this detail might be, but this act of laughing has a long history with Sarah. As we discussed in yesterday’s QT, laughing was one of the things that describe Sarah’s transformation from disbelief into faith. Commentators note that the kind of laughing Ishmael does is much like the mocking, incredulous laughter of Sarah in Genesis 18.
And when you consider who Hagar is, her history with Sarah and Abraham, who Ishmael is, and what God has done by giving Isaac to Sarah, you start to wonder about the nature of Sarah’s disdain towards Hagar. Could it be the Hagar is a reminder of Sarah’s lack of faith? Is Hagar visual proof of Sarah’s past mistakes, of when she tried to take things into her own hands and not trusting in the Lord? Sometimes those that we dislike the most are the most accurate reflections of our true selves. In most cases, our lack of grace towards them is not so much about the other person; it’s our lack of grace towards ourselves. It’s our unwillingness to face and deal with our true selves with the living God. So we rather send our Hagars away.
But we know that unless we deal with these things, they will keep coming back as we are often the source of these things, not the other individuals. In what ways are we pushing away the Hagars in our lives? Something to think about!
Prayer: Father, we thank You for Your constant work in us. We believe that the blood of Jesus covers us, that we are justified in Him. But we also recognize that the Holy Spirit is daily changing our character to become more like Your Son. We often resist this change; we ask for the grace to trust You through the pruning process so that we may bear much fruit. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 22
Lunch Break Study
Read Psalm 139:1-6, 23-24 (ESV): 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. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. . .. 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
- In considering the first part of this psalm (you may consider reading the whole psalm if time permits), what is the picture the of God’s knowledge and understanding that the psalmist paints?
- In verse 6, the psalmist writes that such knowledge is too wonderful for me. When considering such wonderful knowledge, how should we response when these things are revealed to us by the Lord?
- In verses 23-24, what does the psalmist pray? Does this reflect the heart you have towards the Lord? Why or why not?
- The picture that the psalmist paints of God’s knowledge is all encompassing. Consider the words that he uses—God’s knowledge encompasses time and inner thoughts, our future and our ways (v.3), our inner most thoughts before they are spoken (v.4), He surrounds you all around (v.5). God’s understanding and presence in our lives is not merely one-dimensional.
- It is a fearful thing to be known by such an extraordinary God. He sees and knows all thing, a knowledge indeed too wonderful for us to hold. And yet in His perfect wisdom, out of His perfect love, God chooses to reveal certain things to us. Particularly, He reveals the things that are keeping us from Him. This knowledge is indeed wonderful though often painful to acknowledge. Yet when we consider the opposite of not knowing, might our response to this revelation be different?
- The words here are the same as the beginning but different. There is a sense of invitation here. The psalmist is inviting God to search him. It is not permissive (as God already has and knows) but rather relational. The prayer is that God would reveal to him anything grievous so that he may walk in the ways of everlasting God.
We have spent the day reflecting upon how God may be revealing things about our character through those that we may have the hardest time with. One reality we must not neglect in this is that although these things are often more about us than about the other person, it nevertheless has consequences for that person as well. There was real rejection and exiling of Hagar in the passage, not just mentally or emotionally. As you pray about these relationships and what it might reveal about your character, spend some time praying for the Hagars in our lives, that God might bring reconciliation and healing to these relationships.