The AMI QT Devotionals from May 21-7 are provided by Jennifer Kim, a staff at Catalyst Agape Church (New Jersey). Jennifer, a graduate of Boston University, spent a year in Shanghai as one-year intern from 2013-14. She is currently attending Alliance Theological Seminary.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
The Holy Love of God
“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city. 2Although they say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ still they are swearing falsely.” 3Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. 4I thought, “These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God. 5So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God.” But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds. 6Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them, a wolf from the desert will ravage them, a leopard will lie in wait near their towns to tear to pieces any who venture out, for their rebellion is great and their backslidings many. 7“Why should I forgive you? Your children have forsaken me and sworn by gods that are not gods. I supplied all their needs, yet they committed adultery and thronged to the houses of prostitutes. 8They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man’s wife. 9Should I not punish them for this?” declares the Lord. “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?”
During the early seeds of my Christian faith, I struggled to understand the call to be holy and righteous in all things when it seemed that certain sins did not affect others and most went unnoticed. After speaking with an older believer, her response shook me to my core when she said, “Nothing is hidden with God. Even if you get away with something now, when you go to heaven everything will be revealed.” I remember the crippling fear that came over me as I thought about all the sins that I thought I had gotten away with but would be revealed to everyone in heaven. I feared judgment from the people I had wronged, I feared what people would think of me, and I feared the consequences of my actions. Mind you I was a new believer with no biblical foundation on heaven, love, grace, and mercy, but it certainly convicted my eleven-year-old self to be pure and righteous in all things.
When we read today’s passage, we may have a similar reaction of fear and shock towards God’s response to the nation Judah. Sending a lion to attack the people of Jerusalem, a wolf who will ravage them, and a leopard who will tear apart all those who try to escape seems nothing like the loving God we know! But if we look closely at the passage, God had searched all of Jerusalem for one righteous person in order to forgive the entire city, and He had taken measures to warn, rebuke, and correct the people to help them turn from their ways and repent. Yet in God’s efforts to restore the people that He had set apart as His chosen nation, not one was found righteous.
While this passage may show God’s wrath that demands holiness from His people, it is ultimately God’s love that compels Him to such actions. God only disciplines those He loves and chastises those He accepts as His children (Heb. 12:6). When we become selective of the attributes of God by focusing only on certain attributes and not others, such as the love of God and not His holiness, we narrow our scope of understanding God and His ways. It is God’s love for His people that He must judge the actions of His people because our God is holy. If our Lord was only a God of holy perfection, we’d be crushed by the sense of inadequacy to change. If God were only a spirit of love, we’d be complacent in our sin. But our Father is a God of holy love, who requires His children to live in holiness in order that we may live in the fullness of His love.
Prayer: God, thank You that You are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Help me to see Your love in light of Your holiness that I may walk in the ways of truth. Forgive me for the ways I have walked in sin, and may my life be one that is honoring to You. In Jesus’s name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: James 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Exodus 36:6-7: And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
Questions to Consider:
- What one attribute can be used to summarize the characteristics that Moses proclaims about God?
- It seems like verses six and seven list contradicting attributes of God, but what do these two groups show about God?
- What attributes of God do you struggle to live by? What can you do to grow in this area?
- All the attributes listed by Moses show of God’s goodness. It is God’s goodness that leads Him to compassion, grace, faithfulness, and love, yet it is also His goodness that leads him to punish those who sin.
- See above.
- Personal response.
Take time to list the attributes of God that you have personally experienced in your relationship with God. Does your list contain attributes that are all similar in nature but not on other attributes of God? (i.e., focusing on God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, but not on His wisdom, omnipotence, glory, justice). Our theology of God will be based on our understanding of His character, but God desires His children to know the fullness of His presence. Ask God to reveal more of His character to you that you may experience more of Him in your life.