The AMI QT Devotionals for November 27 to December 3 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston. David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace, who teaches at a public school.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“I Am a Sojourner”
Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” The Hittites answered Abraham, “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.”
In 2010, Lebron James made a shocking announcement to the NBA world: he would be taking his talents to South Beach, Miami. For the next four years, Lebron made his home in Miami and thrived during his time there. He won two NBA championship titles for the city of Miami, became one of its most beloved citizens, and he was even called “King James.” But Lebron (and most discerning fans) knew that Lebron’s home wasn’t really in Miami. He was a sojourner there. Lebron was always destined to return to his true home. Sure enough, in 2014, Lebron made his way back home to Cleveland. But his time in Miami will always be one for the (NBA) history books.
Our passage today begins with the death of Sarah. As Abraham grieves for her, he searches for a proper burial place for his beloved wife. Approaching the Hittites, the natives of the land, he begins his request for a burial plot by saying, “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you…” Now, there are a few reasons why Abraham might have introduced himself in this way. Abraham was from Ur of the Chaldeans, and so he was literally a foreigner. But we must consider that by this time, Abraham had been in the land of Canaan for around 50 years already (he was 75 when God first called him). He had raised children, won several military battles, and became one of the most recognized citizens in the area. In fact, he is even called “prince” by the Hittites! It seems that Abraham’s self-identification as a “sojourner and foreigner” is not so much due to the novelty of his stay in Canaan, but rather because he knew that his true home was in heaven. So, although Abraham lived and thrived in various cities, he knew that he was a sojourner until he arrived at home. Perhaps this is why Abraham was able respond to God’s commands with such profound obedience.
Today, let’s be reminded that we are also sojourners in this city. This doesn’t mean we stop putting effort into our roles and responsibilities here. In fact, we ought to do our best to be excellent citizens and loving neighbors wherever we live. Nevertheless, it should be clear to us that we are sojourners and there is only one home to which we belong—and that is with God, in heaven.
Prayer: God, help us to live in this world/city without forgetting that we are just passing through. May you use every moment of our time here for Your glory. And may we respond to Your call with unhindered obedience. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 28
Lunch Break Study
Read Philippians 3:17-20: Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Questions to Consider
- In this passage, what is Paul’s primary command to the Christians in Philippians?
- Who might these “enemies of the cross of Christ” be?
- What does it mean to be a citizen of heaven?
- Paul’s primary command for the believers is for them to imitate him (Paul), and keep their eyes on those who walk faithful to Christ.
- Paul isn’t explicit here about who these people are, but he has given us enough clues here (and in other parts of this letter) for us to have a good idea of whom he is talking about. Paul is urging the believers to be careful of those who call themselves “Christians” but choose to lead others to focus on earthly things. Whether enforcing circumcision, or diet restrictions (“god is their belly”), these people made earthly things the focal point of their faith. Paul says, with tears, that their end is destruction.
- In contrast with having a mind set on earthly things, Paul calls us “citizens of heaven.” Citizenship implies many things on earth: For example, there are many perks, privileges, and responsibilities of being a citizen of the United States. Among the countless blessings/perks of being a citizen of heaven, Paul highlights one specific aspect: we await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This evening, spend some time reflecting on what it means to be a sojourner in your city, at your job, on your campus. What are some ways that you could live increasingly as a citizen of heaven?