March 19, Monday

Today’s AMI Devotional is provided by Pastor Shan Gian who serves at Symphony Church in Boston.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Dirty Job”

Genesis 46:31-34

Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 And the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock, and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”

There used to be a TV show on the Discovery Channel called Dirty Jobs. The title gives the basic premise of the show: the host would go around the country and join actual workers for a day, doing their “dirty jobs” that were uncomfortable, hazardous, disgusting and sometimes all of the above. Some of the examples of the dirty jobs that he did were sewer inspector, pig farming, mosquito control officer, and diaper cleaner. None of these jobs are at all appealing, but they are all necessary because someone has to do them.

If the Egyptians had TV and had their own version of Dirty Jobs, they definitely would have aired an episode involving shepherds. We’re told in verse 34 that “every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.” We don’t know why exactly the Egyptians so disliked shepherding, but we can guess that it was mostly due to the fact that shepherding was a dirty job. It was physically taxing as shepherds were outside all day long and likely slept in tents at night, still tending their flocks. They were separated from most of general society, outside city walls. The work of a shepherd was constant because sheep are very needy and not the brightest of animals. Shepherds had to lead the sheep to food and water, they had to defend them from predators, help them if they had fallen into ditches, and keep them away from danger. And of course the job itself was dirty, because sheep, of course, aren’t exactly the fluffy and white animals that we see in children’s books; they are dirty and smelly and so were the shepherds. We don’t have to wonder too much about why the Egyptians despised shepherds.

When we consider how despised shepherds were, it’s amazing to think that one of the most prominent and important descriptions of who Jesus is to us is that He is our shepherd. We can understand that Jesus is our king or that Jesus is our judge. He is God, so He has authority and power, and He is to be revered and honored as such. And yet, Jesus is our shepherd. What the Scriptures tell us is that Jesus took on the dirtiest and toughest job, and it didn’t just last for one day. He leads us, His flock, from danger and to food and water. He helps us when we fall down. He attends to our needs. Jesus Himself got “dirty” when He took our sin on the cross, and He was despised by humanity and separated from God. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep.

So today, let us remember our shepherd who loves us and did the toughest and dirtiest job imaginable so that we could be with Him.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for being the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for us. You have come into the messiness of my life to show me Your love for me. Thank you Jesus for your amazing love and care for me. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Judges 13


Lunch Break Study (P. Ryun)

Read Luke 15:11-13: And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.

2 Tim. 4: 10a: For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.

Questions to Consider

  1. Although parables are fictitious stories, they are based on the lives of real people. So why would a young man want so desperately to leave his family?
  2. Spiritualize your answer to the first question. Why would some of us want to leave the Father’s house?
  3. There is a saying that goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” For those us who have wandered off from the Father’s house and stepped into the world, how has your experience been? Decent? Yes, perhaps at first. Why don’t you come back, today! If you know someone like that, then pray for that person right this moment.

Note

  1. It is always a combination of things, right? First, the dull life of a farm boy makes a person feels like they are missing out; second, the rumors of great fun and opportunities in the city lure them as well. What they don’t hear about is the emotional, financial and spiritual cost of trying to find that life. Many have been and continue to be disappointed.
  2. Besides the typical reasons such as loving the world, which is what sidetracked Demas from the narrow path, one other reason can be the unhealthiness of the spiritual community of which you are a part, that is causing more pain than joy. My suggestion: Don’t go the world where more pain awaits; instead, first address your legitimate concerns with your leaders; second, if all else fail, then, look for another fellowship, but know that as long as humans are involved, nothing will match your idealism.
  3. Come on, think of someone! You know a lot of these people. Care enough to pray for them.

Evening Reflection

As we wrap up this day, ask yourself this question: Am I the kind of person who is willing to take on responsibilities at work or church that no one wants to take on? Of course, this question needs to be tempered with other considerations, but I am talking about our basic orientation and attitude. Mull on Philippians 2:5-8 and examine what is in your heart.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

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