Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by Jonathan Cho. Jonathan recently graduated from Emory University in 2017. He currently serves as an intern at Journey Church of Atlanta and specifically works with the college leaders of the church.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. 2 Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother…6 Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women,”7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. 8 So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, 9 Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.
A friend once asked me, “Who did you make happy today? Why did you make them happy?” As I attempted a response, I realized it quickly became a list of who I want to please. When I got to the second question, I realized just how much their opinion of me shaped and defined my principles and values. I found myself stuck in the same cycle of the family in this passage.
Esau, wanting to please his father to get blessing, marries Ishmael’s daughter. Isaac, wanting to placate Rebekah’s grief over Jacob possibly marrying Hittites, sends Jacob away so he would not marry a Canaanite woman. Rebekah, favoring Jacob, only considers his well-being. This series of impulse reactions reveal the danger of living reactively. Wanting to please someone— especially a loved one—can be a beautiful thing, for it demonstrates consideration, compassion, and care. But it can often become distorted into being an idol that leads to compromised principles and half-measured decisions. Although Esau took Mahalath to be his wife, he remained married to his other two Hittite wives; thus, marriage became a tool to gain favor. Isaac sends Jacob away, but still allowed Esau to marry Hittite women because Rebekah only grieved over Jacob’s future in marriage. His principles as a father prioritized pleasing his wife. Rebekah compromised her marriage by manipulating her husband to continually favor Jacob.
In the same way, we can find ourselves falling for the very human, very real rhythm of simply reacting in our faith and our walk with God. We will do just enough to feel better about our spirituality and stop. We will go to God only when we need to, when we feel empty and want to feel full. Prayer becomes a tool and the Word only a book of wisdom and insight. Relationship is stale, and ultimately, pleasing God becomes an empty concept.
Yet, God remains patient with us and responds with faithfulness and a steadfast love that redeems His people—just like how He used this family, in spite of everything, to fulfill His promise to Abraham. Let us begin this day with a victorious reminder of the Father’s heart and a prayerful self-examination of who we are living for.
Prayer: God, thank You for Your steadfast love. Thank You for pursuing us and calling us to salvation. May our thoughts be informed by Your Word, our actions regulated by Your character, and our decisions dependent Your counsel. Help us to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 47
Lunch Break Study
Read Romans 12:1-3: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Questions to consider
- Evidently, this verse is looking back to the OT sacrifice system in which only the best animals (i.e., without defects) were offered to God. In light of that, what does it mean to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord (2 Cor. 8:7)?
- According to this passage, what motivates and empowers us to live out spiritual worship?
- Are you testing yourself? Your motives? Your heart? Your lifestyle? Your decisions? What are you discerning as a result?
- The apostle Paul, before making a list of areas in which the believers need to bear tangible fruits, such as “in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in love” and also in “giving,” says, “Excel in everything.” This is to say, we must not give God our scraps and think that that is good enough.
- Romans 2:4 and Hebrews 11:6 shows how even pleasing God is impossible without Him. His kindness leads us to repentance, His mercies compel us to surrender, and His grace calls us to salvation. It always starts and ends in dependence on God.
- Personal response.
What did you learn or feel about your relationship with Christ today?