The AMI QT Devotionals from January 1-7 are provided by Pastor Jason Sato of OTR in Cincinnati. Jason, a graduate of UC San Diego (B.S.) and Westminster Theological Seminary in California (M.Div.), is married to Jessica, and they have three young children: Jonah, Lily, and Ayla (three months old).
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Genesis 33:18–20 (ESV)
And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram, and he camped before the city.  And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent.  There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.
When I proposed to my wife, I spoke about my love and commitment to her. I did not take this time to hash out the details of our marriage, such as negotiating household chores. Obviously this is appropriate, because marriage is not a business transaction.
The first time Jacob hears from God, he is fleeing his brother Esau. God declares,
“I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring…and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed… (Genesis 28:13-14)
Jacob’s response is to say:
“…If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear,  so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God…” (Genesis 28:20-21)
God is giving Jacob His covenant promise to bless him, yet Jacob is in negotiation mode. He sees his relationship with God as a means to an end. If the Lord will fulfill Jacob’s demands, then Jacob will follow the Lord in return.
Even after fleeing his uncle Laban, Jacob still refers to God as “the Fear of his father Isaac” (Genesis 31:53). But after wrestling with the Lord all night and seeing the face of God in his reconciliation with his brother, Jacob knows God in a different way. He builds an altar and calls it “El-Elohe-Israel” (the God of Israel).
Jacob’s life has been transformed in two ways. First, Jacob becomes who God says he is. No longer is he Jacob (meaning “he cheats” in Hebrew); he is now Israel (meaning “he strives with God”). Second, God is not merely the God of Abraham and Isaac; He is now the God of Jacob as well.
As Jacob had asked, the Lord was with him, gave him bread to eat and clothing to wear, and brought him back to his father’s house in peace. But the Lord has done far more than fulfill the bargain that Jacob proposed. God has made Jacob a new man and shown him faithfulness and a love which amazed him. Jacob’s desire is no longer to bargain with God, but to worship Him.
Prayer: Father, You are greater and more wonderful than anything I can imagine or ask of You. Thank You that You are not my business partner, but my generous Father. You are not just the God of others but my God, and I am forever grateful.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 3
Lunch Break Study
Read Philippians 3:8–11 (ESV): 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  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— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Question to Consider
- How much does Paul value Christ?
- According to verse 9, what is needed to know Jesus?
- According to verse 10, what does knowing Jesus involve?
- He is willing to suffer the loss of all things in order to gain Christ.
- To know Jesus, we need a righteousness that is not our own, the very righteousness of God that comes by faith.
- To know Jesus is to know Him in the power of his resurrection and sharing in his sufferings and death.
Reflect upon your day. How were you tempted to use God as a means to an end? How did God invite you to know Him? Spend some time enjoying the presence of God.