The AMI QT Devotionals for January 8-14 are provided by Tina Hsu. Tina, a graduate of Biola University and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.), currently serves as a staff at the Church of Southland, Anaheim, California.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“God Who Speaks”
After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him. Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.
In today’s passage, there is a strong sense of intimacy and directness towards Jacob, and God brings Jacob to a deeper revelation of Himself by saying he is “God Almighty,” a name God used when he revealed Himself to Abraham (17:1), blessing him with the blessing that He first gave to Abraham and Isaac. This is the second time that God appears to Jacob and tells him of his new name, “Israel” (meaning “he struggles with God”) and says he is no longer called “Jacob” (meaning “he deceives”).
The passage repeats several times that God is a God who talks to Jacob: “God appeared to him again and blessed him” (v. 9); “God went up from him at the place where he had talked with Jacob” (v. 13); “…where God had talked to him” (v. 14); “…where God had talked with him” (v. 15).
There are seasons in life in which God draws near to me, and I can’t help but know that He is speaking to me. One example is when a friend from China wrote me several times to tell me that my time serving there was so valuable to the disciples, and I was influential during my time there. I would eventually reply and say “thank you,” but I perceived her words as just nice things that anyone could say. I couldn’t receive her words into my heart because I was bearing self-doubt at that time. However, in my time with the Lord, I sensed that He Himself was telling me to fully receive the encouragement because it is true. Despite my imperfections I faced while I served in China, God deemed my work “good” in His eyes. Because of that moment, I freely let go of the need to evaluate my performance and enjoyed God’s love simply as His daughter.
I wonder why God appeared to Jacob a second time to speak to him about his name. It may be because God’s heart is to reach us and to let his truth go deeper in us. Jacob had pretty deep roots in his old identity (“he deceives”), but his old roots were not too deep for the Lord to remove and to renew. Praise God for He is a God who speaks to us!
Prayer: Dear God, I thank You because You are a God who speaks to Your children. You repeat the same truth over and over again so that we can remain steadfast in our true identity, and You remove old roots that don’t belong. Thank You for drawing near to us and reminding us often of the truth we need to cling on to! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 11
Lunch Break Study
Read John 1:47-50: When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
Questions to Consider
- How does Jesus commend Nathanael?
- Why does Nathanael salute Jesus in a way that implies kingship and divinity?
- What is Jesus saying to Nathanael?
- Jesus commends Nathanael as a straightforward person and one who is not characterized by cunning or deceit. He is a true son of Israel, not characterized by deceit, which was used of Jacob before his change of heart and his change of name to “Israel.”
- Something about Jesus’ reply that he saw Nathanael before Philip called him strikes Nathanael as something grand, and it leads him to render honor to Jesus’ name.
- Jesus is saying that Nathanael will not only see the Son of God in flesh right now, but he will see greater things, such as the Son of God in His glory surrounded by angels.
What area in your life do you desire God to speak to you? What area in your life do you think you have been listening to voices that are not God’s (yourself, media, others, the enemy)? Take some time to ask God to speak to you with His truth.