The AMI QT Devotionals from December 25-31 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology. He is married to Esther.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Keeping Our Promises”
Genesis 31:43-50 (ESV):
Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day for these my daughters or for their children whom they have borne? 44 Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I. And let it be a witness between you and me.” 45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 And Jacob said to his kinsmen, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. 47 Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. 48 Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore, he named it Galeed, 49 and Mizpah, for he said, “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight. 50 If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.”
Our church is notorious for having a lot of leftover snacks—from the leftover snacks of different retreats to the snacks that each of our ministries buy for future events, there is always food lying around somewhere. And what I’ve learned is to make sure to label everything, if I am saving it for something—otherwise, it will most definitely get eaten. Sometimes, even the snacks that are labeled get taken! So recently, I’ve started labeling our snacks with our ministry name, and then adding the line: “Please do not take, God is watching you.” Hopefully, this will deter whoever has been taking my snacks. I might not be there to protect these snacks from being stolen, but God is watching. The funny thing is, more often than not, this is a great deterrent.
In this passage, we see that Laban and Jacob are getting ready to part ways. If you remember, Jacob had fled, with his wives and his flock, but Laban had caught up to him. He accused Jacob of stealing his household gods, but they were nowhere to be found. As Laban is about to leave to return home, they take a bunch of stones and make a tower with it, calling it Galeed, which means “a heap of witness,” and Mizpah, which means “watchtower.” This heap of stones is to act as a watchtower to watch over both sides of the family, when they cannot see one another.
If you google Mizpah, you’ll see pendants that sell pretty well. Apparently, people have monetized it and made it into a romantic item, where “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight,” is a symbolic token of God watching over their love for one another. However, in the context of this passage, Mizpah is more of a warning—that God is watching whatever they do in the dark, and that God will be the final judge in these matters.
Sometimes we forget the fact that God is always watching—whether it’s the business deals or in our dealing with the different relationships that we have. Do we do things with the understanding that God is watching our every move? In Luke 12:3, Jesus says that whatever is said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what is whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. Sometimes we may get freaked out that we are being watched (especially with the NSA surveillance leak), but we should actually be comforted by the fact that our God is the ultimate watchtower of our lives, watching us for our well-being. May we live our lives with integrity and purity in light of this reminder that our God is the ultimate watchtower of our lives.
Prayer: Lord, we thank You for being the watchtower in our lives. Thank You that Your loving eyes are upon us, both in the good times and in the bad times. We ask for Your eyes of love and hand of protection to be upon us. May we live our lives in a way that is godly and honoring to You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 10
Lunch Break Study
Read Psalm 139:1-12 (ESV): O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
Question to Consider
- What is the psalmist trying to communicate?
- What patterns do you notice in this psalm?
- Read this psalm in its entirety twice, then pause and ask God to speak to you through this psalm. What is He saying?
- The psalmist is communicating that God is always with him. The key verse is verse 7, where David says that he cannot run away from God’s presence. Whether he goes down to Sheol, or if he ascends up to the heavens, God’s presence is always with him. His eyes are always upon him.
- David uses contrasts (opposite ends of the spectrum) to explain this idea that God is always with him. Whether he is in the heavens or in the pits of Sheol, God is with him. Whether he is taken up in the wings of the morning or in the uttermost parts of the sea, God is there leading him. Whether he is in darkness or light, God is there with him. Whether he is laying down or rising, God is with him.
- Personal response.
How do you react to the fact that God is a watchtower in your life? Does it bring you comfort? Does it bring you peace? Does it bring you anxiety or fear? Bring this up to the Lord and allow Him to minister to you tonight.