May 8, Tuesday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Charles Graham. Charles is a new intern with Kairos, who came aboard in September of 2017. He is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology to prepare himself for a life of service and ministry.

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Just the tip of the iceberg”

Jeremiah 1:9-16 (NIV) 

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. ¹⁰See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” ¹¹The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. ¹²The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” ¹³The word of the Lord came to me again: “What do you see?” “I see a pot that is boiling,” I answered. “It is tilting toward us from the north.” ¹⁴The Lord said to me, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. ¹⁵I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,” declares the Lord. “Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah. ¹⁶I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made.

Have you ever been so sure about something, only to discover later, there was more to learn or realize than what you thought was the whole truth? When something grabs my interest, I love reading and studying about it. Whatever it is, I want to know its ins and outs, its background and everything else there is to know about it. I’m a nerd, and I enjoy obsessive study. When I found Christianity, the same instincts kicked in to the nth degree. Now, ignoring my early theological, epistemological, or other scholarly four-syllable word mistakes, in my pride, I really thought my obsessive study habits put me on the path to truly knowing God. Oh, my naivety!

Conventional wisdom would dictate careful, steady study is the best way to learn about something. While this is true, applying this simple axiom to Christianity only gets you so far. A person could bury themselves in the Word, read systematic theology books monthly, and comb through Scripture to learn as much as there is to know about God, and still miss the greater point. Consider your best friend telling you about someone they think you’d love to date. Your friend could tell you about this person’s likes, dislikes and general character. Your friend could even support their claims about this person by pulling excerpts from their personal diary. You could even follow the person on their social media platforms, learning everything about their daily life. When all is said and done, you’ve learned everything there is to know about this person—and yet, your relationship with them has not progressed any further than when you had no idea that they existed. Why? Because you haven’t met them yet. This is how far my obsessive study skills had gotten me before trusted friends knocked some sense into me.

The reality is, the Christian life is not predicated on knowing about God, but rather, knowing God Himself. While there are worse ways to spend one’s time than studying His likes, dislikes and character, etc., time also ought to be spent alone with God, reaching out to Him in prayer. After an honest pursuit, I’ve come to learn that sometimes, God reaches back. When it comes to spiritual giftings or even stepping into certain roles, I admit—like Jeremiah—that I harbor much doubt. However, in Jeremiah 1, we see God reminding Jeremiah that He will accompany and rescue him. What’s more, we see God sending Jeremiah visions and interpreting them to let him know that He is trustworthy. Receiving images from God is a bit new for me. While I’m certain I’ve had other encounters with the Holy Spirit, seeing prophetic images is not something that comes easy. My prayer is that as my knowledge of God catches up to my knowledge about God, and our relationship builds, that I will learn to listen and wait for Him.

Prayer: Father, learning about You and meeting You are two, very different concepts. I have spent much time on the former, mistakenly thinking it would bring us closer. I now ask for Your help in working on the latter. Though I spend much time speaking to You, please help me to perceive and understand when You speak back. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Hebrews 2


Lunch Break Study

Read John 3:1-10 (NIV): Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” 9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?

Questions to consider

  1. What is Nicodemus’ role as a Pharisee?
  2. If Nicodemus is so knowledgeable, why can’t he understand what Jesus is saying to him?
  3. So, why do you think God has given us His Word? Give a personal answer.

Notes

  1. As a Pharisee, Nicodemus is a Jewish religious authority. From a young age, Nicodemus was trained to be a scholar of Judaism, giving him far superior knowledge of the Scriptures than that of any ordinary person. If anyone knew how to read and interpret Jewish religious writings, law or traditions, Nicodemus would be one of them.
  2. Unfortunately, like his peers, Nicodemus had focused the vast majority of his studies on knowing the Scriptures and following the law as he understood them on the surface. It seems, as a whole, the Pharisees had focused on the what of the Scriptures, rather than the why, making it difficult for him to understand Jesus’ answers.
  3. Personal response. 

Evening Reflection

Like most past times, acquiring knowledge is not intrinsically a bad thing. The key is, however, to recognize the fine line that separates a healthy activity from an idolatrous one. Studying the Word, seeking its wisdom and learning about God are all good things, until they get in the way of your relationship with Him. Oftentimes, good things are the easiest objects to make into idols for ourselves. The remedy, it seems, is to meet with God in prayer and simply ask for more of Him, and for our desire of Him to increase as His presence does.

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