December 7, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals from December 4-10 are written by Andy Kim. Andy, a graduate of Northwestern University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) currently serves as a staff at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco. And this past November Andy got married . . . to Jane. Congratulations.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Genesis 26:1-5

Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. 2 And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Over the past decade, millennials have gotten a bad reputation, especially from the previous generations. Time magazine writer John Stein describes the stigma of the millennials as the “ME, ME, ME” generation. While previous generations have been built on hard work and sacrifice for the next, millennials expect to simply ride on their coat tails. Stein writes that the consequences are feelings of entitlement and laziness. As a millennial, I feel that these generalizations may be debatable, but we can all agree that there is no such thing as a free ride in our world today.

In our passage, the writer makes it clear that Isaac is the benefactor of Abraham’s obedience. But if the blessings that came to Isaac were only because “Abraham obeyed God’s voice and kept his charge” (v. 5), then why make Isaac go through the same trials his father endured? Again and again, Isaac’s life seems to follow in the footsteps of his father—from living in famine, struggling under foreign rulers, to having no place to settle down (vv. 1-4). All of this is under the future promise that God will bless them later. Why? Perhaps God is trying to teach Isaac that even though the blessings have come through his father, he, too, must exercise faith in order to fully enjoy the promised blessings. But more than the blessings themselves, God wanted to ensure that Isaac, too, would have a personal relationship with Him.

Let’s take a moment to re-examine our faith: Why do we believe in the things we believe in? Is it because we were born into it, or we grew up in a believing community? Is it based on the faith of our church leaders, or perhaps how much we do for the church? While these are all important, ultimately, God desires that we would all personally know Him. J.I. Packer writes, “There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them.” While salvation has been freely given, it is by no means a free ride for anyone. It only is given to those who have personally experienced Him and believe in His word. And so as we look to the fathers of faith, may we continue to run with endurance the race that is set before us—only now, looking to Jesus the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:1).

Prayer: Father, we confess that oftentimes we focus more on the things You can do for us rather than in who You are. Help us to remember that You are the faithful God who knows what’s best for us. Give us the strength in our prayers to trust that You will move in Your perfect timing and way. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 39


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 3:4-11: If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does Paul’s knowledge of God change in this passage?
  2. What is the result of Paul’s change in understanding? How does it change him?
  3. How do you see your knowledge of God changing you?

Notes

  1. Though Paul has quite an impressive resume and experience that shows he knows about God more than anyone else, he makes it clear that such knowledge is nothing in comparison to knowing Christ—making a distinction between simply knowing about God and His ways vs. knowing Christ. Paul states that to know Christ is ultimately to be found in Him—that is, to be in fellowship and relationship with Him. He realizes that only such a relationship with Christ is what makes him truly righteous.
  2. Commentator Melick writes, “It was impossible to hold on to the former values and still have Christ. It was one or the other, and Christ exceeded anything and everything else.” And so Paul is able to freely give up his past experiences and accomplishments because knowing Christ was far greater than these. When we find something of infinite value, all other things lose their significance in our lives. Thus, Paul’s pursuit of knowing Christ gives him the strength and power to endure through life’s sufferings.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

J.I. Packer writes that all the things we know about God mean nothing if we don’t actually know Him. In Knowing God he writes, “How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each Truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.” We can only really know a person when we spend time with them. Let us take a moment to think of some truth we know about God—maybe it’s a simple verse or even a phrase. Spend a few moments simply meditating on it. Sometimes it helps to declare those words over yourself. Even the simplest truths can speak volumes when the words come alive in the heart.

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