December 21, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals from December 17 to 24 are provided by Pastor Yohan Lee of Remnant Church, New York City. Yohan graduated from University of Pennsylvania and Cairn University, where he studied theology. He is married to Mandie, and they have four adorable children.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Grasping at Straws”

Genesis 30:1-8

When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” 2 Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” 3 Then she said, “Here is my servant Bilhah; go in to her, so that she may give birth on my behalf, that even I may have children through her.” 4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. 5 And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan. 7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.

One of my favorite social games is Scattergories.  If you’ve never played, the premise is that at random, all players will get a category and a letter of the alphabet; and you have to come up with items that fit the category that starts with the letter.  For example, if the category is “comic characters” and the letter is B, Batman would be an easy answer.  But here’s the catch: you only get points for unique answers, so if other contestants used Batman, too, no one would get points from that answer.  What makes the game fun is that if you come up with an “out of the box” type answer, you have to convince other players of its validity, and by “convince,” I mean argue.  My wife hates playing Scattergories with me—she says that I cheat.  Case in point:  the last time we played, the category was “type of footwear” and the letter was F.  I gave the answer, “Famous Footwear” (you get double points for double alliteration), which is footwear store vs. a specific footwear brand.  Anyway, I argued passionately for that one, but ultimately got overruled by my collaborating, narrow-minded co-contestants.  If you are the type of person who is good at grasping at straws and twisting reality, then this is your type of game.

Sadly, I think Rachel would have been good at Scattergories, because I don’t really see how any rational person could have looked at her situation—resorting to having children through her maid-servant—as a victory over her sister.  Yet, here we see it: she names her first son Dan, thinking that God has judged her as right, and her second son Naphtali, arguing that she has wrestled with her sister and won.  This instance makes me realize how desperate Rachel must have been to twist this situation, and her actions in it, so that she comes out right and justified.  Or perhaps, Rachel was just grasping at straws, trying to convince herself and others that what she did was noble or something.  I don’t know.

Now, before we get too hard on Rachel, I think most people lose objectivity when faced with dire circumstances.  Perhaps you recently felt like you had to lie to get out of a bad situation or you had to compromise in some other manner.  Or maybe you’ve convinced yourself that the ends justified the means or your actions actually honored God.  Did it feel like you were twisting the circumstances or grasping at straws?  Desperate people tend to do that, don’t they?

Prayer: Lord, help me to see things truthfully and objectively.  Help me not rationalize or grasp at straws to get my way, but help me to speak and live with absolute integrity.  If I am in a desperate situation, please help me to trust You through it.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  1 Corinthians 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 15:10-20: And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.14 Let them alone; they are blind guides.  And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What are the things that defile a person and from where do they come?
  2. What do actions, thoughts, and words indicate about a person?
  3. What do your thoughts, words, and actions say about your heart?

Notes

  1. Jesus says that sinful actions and thoughts come from a person’s heart.
  2. The implication is that if a person is consistently doing/saying/thinking sinful things, then his heart is not as clean as he may think. Those who consistently think, say, and do good things have transformed hearts.
  3. Application question.

Evening Reflection

Today’s theme was integrity.  Where do you stand when it comes to living your faith consistently in all areas of your life?  Ask the Lord, who searches hearts and minds, to examine your life and bring to light any areas that need to be reexamined.

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