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 was a college student, grades were not very important to me. My goal was to get the best grade possible for the least amount of work possible. My academic philosophy could have been called “good enough.”
At this time in his life, Jacob is a changed man. He courageously repents and reconciles with Esau, he resists the temptation to follow Esau into Seir, and he even buys a plot of land in the promised, making an altar to his God.
But Jacob is not perfect yet. He settles in Shechem, not Bethel. When Jacob was fleeing from Esau, he vowed to build God a house in Bethel if God enabled him to return. Perhaps because Bethel is a mere 20 miles from Shechem, Jacob decides he is close enough.
Now of course, God did not demand that Jacob make that vow, nor is God unnecessarily concerned with the letter of the law rather than the heart. But there is a better reason than legalism for Jacob to keep his vow and go on to Bethel, just as there is a excellent reason for believers to rise above a half-hearted, “good enough” mentality of faith: love.
Good enough is fine for things that are peripheral or temporal – things like our salaries, reputations, or material comforts. But “good enough” is deadly and beneath the dignity of a friendship, or a marriage, or a relationship with Jesus Christ. While we may have little to give to the Lord, let us give Him the best that we have each day.
Prayer Father, I am often tempted to believe that I serve You or love You enough. Thank You that there is grace for sinners like me. May this incredible grace and love spur me to give my whole heart to You.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 4
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Samuel 15:2–3, 9, 13-15 (ESV):  Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt.  Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” …
 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction…
 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the LORD. I have performed the commandment of the LORD.”  And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?”  Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”
Question to Consider
- What was the clear commandment of the Lord?
- What did Saul do instead?
- How did Saul excuse his disobedience?
- To devote every living thing of Amalek to destruction.
- Saul spared King Agag and best of the sheep and of the oxen.
- Saul tells Samuel that the animals were spared in order to sacrifice them to the Lord. Saul spiritualizes his disobedience.
Reflect upon your day. In what ways were you tempted to serve God halfheartedly? Confess these things to the Lord and thank Him for His grace today. Ask God for strength to honor him wholeheartedly tomorrow.