November 23, Thursday

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 21:22-34

At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do. 23 Now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my descendants or with my posterity, but as I have dealt kindly with you, so you will deal with me and with the land where you have sojourned.” 24 And Abraham said, “I will swear.” 25 When Abraham reproved Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized, 26 Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, and I have not heard of it until today.” 27 So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant. 28 Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock apart. 29 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?” 30 He said, “These seven ewe lambs you will take from my hand, that this may be a witness for me that I dug this well.” 31 Therefore that place was called Beersheba, because there both of them swore an oath. 32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba. Then Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army rose up and returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. 34 And Abraham sojourned many days in the land of the Philistines.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our AMI family! I pray that wherever you are, your heart is full of gratitude because of God’s faithfulness in your life. It was almost 400 years ago when the first US Thanksgiving was celebrated by a fraction of the surviving pilgrims who came to the New World. It had been the first successful harvest after much suffering and loss. And on this day, alongside Native American friends who had greatly assisted the Pilgrims in settling in their new homes, they got together for three days of feasting and fellowship. Literary Critic Kathleen Donegan in a PBS special on the First Thanksgiving recounts the following:

Part of the reason why they were grateful was because they had been in such misery… so in some way, that day of thanksgiving is coming out of mourning. It’s also coming out of grief. And this abundance that is a relief from that loss… but we don’t think about the loss; we think about the abundance.

Today’s passage can easily be overlooked. But upon further investigation, this part of the story actually has a lot of connections to the first observance of Thanksgiving. Commentators note the significance of this covenant made between Abraham and Abimelech as Abraham’s first steps of leaving the nomadic way of life and establishing himself in the land where God had promised to make him a great nation—Canaan. What may not be apparent especially to modern-day readers is this dispute over a well. Scholars note that in such arid climates, the securing of a water source is of greatest importance when it comes to establishing a settlement. By having Abimelech guarantee the ownership of the well at Beersheba as belonging to Abraham, he had now secured his water source. And much like the Pilgrims who celebrated God’s provision in helping them settle in their new home, Abraham begin to establish roots into the promised land of God.

As you take this day to remember all the ways the Lord has been faithful to you, how He has established your ways through His blessings, is your heart overflowing with gratitude? Or are we too consumed by the things that we do not have or, as Donegan put it, are we focused on the miseries and the loss? Not that those things are insignificant, but because God is so much more significant, we are able to focus on His goodness. May God bring to remembrance today all that He has done for us, starting with the cross of Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Father, thank You! Thank You for who You are! Thank You for all that You have done! You are Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides. You are Jehovah Shalom, the God of my peace. Everything I have in life is because of Your grace. And on this day, I choose to look to Your goodness. Help me to make this the posture in which I live every day of my life. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 23


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Questions to Consider

  1. According to this passage, what is rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks a summation of? What allows you to do this?
  2. What is the relationship between rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving? How do you see these things playing a role in your life?
  3. As you take a moment to reflect, is there an example of a hardship in your life where in Christ, you were able to or you could have given thanks in even that circumstance? How so?

Notes

  1. The passage shows that rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks is the will of God for us—this is what He wants for our lives. When so many of us ask about the will of God in terms of direction or decisions, this passage points to the posture in which we are called to live. And this is possible all because of what Christ has done and accomplished on our behalf.
  2. It is often explained that these three things are three aspects of the same experience. Rejoicing is the inward experiencing of God; thanksgiving is the outward expression of that rejoicing toward God; prayer is the process through which we come to understand and experience from God’s perspective. The psalms are an expression of these three things at play. Therefore, it (singular) is the will of God for us—you cannot truly have one without the other.
  3. Personal reflection. Really spend some time thinking through this—go deeper with the Spirit rather than giving a “Sunday school” response. Taste and see that it is possible to give thanks in all circumstances.

Evening Reflection

I hope your bellies are full at this point. We have spent the day reflecting upon the goodness of God that has established our lives to where it is now. As we prepare for tomorrow, take this moment to posture yourself to give thanks now for what will happen tomorrow. In what ways can you already start tomorrow by giving thanks now?

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