January 17, Wednesday

The AMI QT devotionals from Jan. 15-21 are provided by Cami King. Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED”

Genesis 37:23-28

When Joseph reached his brothers, they stripped him of his tunic, the special tunic that he wore. 24 Then they took him and threw him into the cistern. (Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.) 25 When they sat down to eat their food, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were carrying spices, balm, and myrrh down to Egypt. 26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not lay a hand on him, for after all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers agreed. 28 So when the Midianite merchants passed by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. The Ishmaelites then took Joseph to Egypt.

Have you ever received a word from God—an incredible promise of something God is going to do in your life? First comes the disbelief (not a lack of faith, but shock that God would speak to you and make such an awesome promise). Then comes the joyful anticipation of God bringing it to pass. Then comes the waiting, the living in the in-between, the waiting for God to do what was promised. And if you’ve ever made it to the end of a season of waiting and experienced God’s long-anticipated fulfillment of a promise, then you know that the journey never looks as we anticipate. It’s full of twists, turns, and unexpected moments—many of them difficult. Moments when we are sure we misheard God, or that we’ve somehow disqualified ourselves from the promise, or that God has changed His mind (or worse is some sort of menacing deity and the whole thing was a ruse).

Joseph finds himself in such a moment. Things are not going well for him (understatement of the century!). Instead of rising to the place of supremacy over his family, he is descending into servitude in a foreign land.

My favorite story of such a journey is found in George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin (forgive me in advance if I’ve already told this story). In it, MacDonald tells of a little girl sent on a journey by her grandmother. All she is told is whenever she is in trouble to follow a thread (too thin to be seen, it can only be felt) attached to the end of a ring given her by her grandmother. The grandmother promises to hold the other end no matter what, but also warns that “it may seem to you a very roundabout way indeed, and you must not doubt the thread. Of one thing you may be sure, that while you hold it, I hold it too.”

And so it is with the promises of God. While we hold them in all the ups and especially the downs of waiting, hallelujah, God holds them too.

Prayer: Sovereign God, who am I that You are mindful of me? Thank You for Your good plans for my life. You are the Great Promise Keeper and, because I am in Christ, all Your promises to me are truly yes and amen. Give me faith to trust You today in the areas where I am losing heart. You are trustworthy. You have proven that in the life of Your Son. And it is in His name I ask these things. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Numbers 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 11:2-11: Now when John heard in prison about the deeds Christ had done, he sent his disciples to ask a question: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go tell John what you hear and see: The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them. Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me. While they were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fancy clothes? Look, those who wear fancy clothes are in the homes of kings! What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11 “I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. 

Questions to Consider:

Stop: If you are not familiar with the story of John the Baptist, quickly read about him in Matthew chapter 3 for context to today’s Lunch Break Study.

  1. What does John’s question in vv.2-3 suggest he was feeling? Why might he have been feeling this way?
  2. What does Jesus say about John the Baptist in these verses? How might a man like John the Baptist struggling with doubts as he waits for God to fulfill promises encourage you as we wait?
  3. How does Jesus answer John’s doubts? How might we apply this advice to our lives when we struggle with doubts?

Notes

  1. John is feeling doubt. His entire life was lived in commitment to God, and his entire ministry was to prepare God’s people for Jesus’ arrival. Although Jesus was on the scene, things were not going as John expected—and he began to doubt. John had good reason to feel this way—he was in jail (soon to be executed)—and things were not going as anyone expected they would once the Messiah arrived.
  2. Jesus speaks extremely highly of John. He doesn’t condemn John for his doubts; He praises him for being the greatest person to ever live! (see v. 11) If God’s ways could stumble even a faithful follower like John into doubt, we, too, will likely experience doubts along the way. It’s human! But, like John, we can continue to come to Jesus in the midst of our doubts and find hope to hold on.
  3. Jesus reminds John of the things He’s done and is doing. Similarly, when we face doubts, we can turn to God’s track record—the ways we’ve seen God move already in our lives and in the world around us. This will give us hope and courage in the face of doubts.

Evening Reflection

What are some promises God has given you—in the Scriptures, through the words of others, during times of prayer, through a sense of deep conviction, maybe even in a dream? Take some time to write them down this evening. In what, if any, areas of your life are you losing heart and doubting the promises of God? What are some ways you’ve seen God move (in your life or in the lives of others)? Spend some time reflecting on God’s track record. Allow it to encourage you and renew your trust in God’s goodness and faithfulness!

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