Devotional Thoughts for Today
Jeremiah 9:6-7 (ESV)
Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit, they refuse to know me, declares the Lord. 7 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: “Behold, I will refine them and test them, for what else can I do, because of my people”
No parent wishes to see their children suffer. But every parent knows that there are moments in which suffering is necessary for growing—especially when it comes to disobedience. As parents, it takes a great amount of patience and love to allow children to face the consequences of their actions. It seems even after many warnings, children always want to learn the hard way. And as children we hate our parents because of this, but we learn to appreciate these moments later in life as growth lessons for us.
In our passage today, the children of God have refused to heed the warnings from God and have continued to turn to idols and other destructive practices. In fact, Jeremiah’s entire life was dedicated to warning the people of God of their pending destruction. Commentator Huey writes, “Sometimes when all warnings fail, God submits a life to the crucible of suffering for there was no other recourse for God because of his people’s sins.” And so suffering in this case was a direct consequence of their disobedience. Yet, even in the midst of our own disobedience, God still chooses to call them my people (verse 7). No disobedience will ever compromise our identity in Him. What an amazing truth this is for us!
Even greater, God will never leave us in our rebellion lost in our sins. Instead, God refines and tests us so that we may turn from our ways and embrace Him once again. And so these seasons do not serve as punishment for our disobedience; rather, they are the evidence of His love and desire to make us into His likeness. Spend a few moments reflecting on this. In the areas that may bring regret, know that He offers redemption. For there is nothing God cannot redeem for His glory and purpose. Perhaps there are warning signs in our lives in which the Holy Spirit is nudging us. May we have open hearts to His leading.
Prayer: Father, I confess my own spiritual blindness and disobedience. Help me to be more sensitive to Your Spirit so that I may see the warning signs in my life. Purify my heart and my desires that I may be transformed into Your likeness. Thank You for your unending grace that saves me from my sins. Amen.
Daily Bible Reading: Ezekiel 11
Lunch Break Study
Read Hebrews 12:5-11: And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Questions to Consider
- Why does God discipline us? What is the importance of discipline?
- How should we receive God’s discipline in our lives? What are some spiritual disciplines you can work on?
- The author points out that discipline is actually a mark of our status as children of God. Like a father disciplining his child, God disciplines us. God disciplines us not only to show His love for us, but also for our own good so that we may share in His holiness (verse 10). In fact, the Psalmist would even ascribe that “blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord.” The pains of discipline shouldn’t surprise us; rather, we should expect it, knowing that it is producing in us a fruit of righteousness.
- As much as God disciplines the ones He loves, the reverse must be also be true. Those who are disciplined truly love Him. Spiritual discipline can come in the form of prayer, the word, fasting, generosity, etc.
In 2005, John Mark McMillan wrote the song, “How He Loves” performed by the well-known David Crowder Band. It was written after his friend died in a car accident, the same night his friend told God he would give his life if it would draw more youth to Christ. Such a story often reveals the raw emotions that surface during seasons of trials and suffering—emotions that are rarely encouraged. And to this, theologian Emmanuel Katongole writes, “Lament is not despair. It is not whining. It is more than just emotions. It is not a cry into a void. Lament is a cry directed to God. It is the prayer of those who are deeply disturbed by the way things are.” Sometimes, it’s in these deepest moments of pain where we can find the greatest experience of His grace.
Take some time and reflect on areas you have kept hidden, because of the pain or sorrow it may bring. As God reveals you to these areas, let Him remind you that only He is the true Savior of your soul. May you find freedom in such a prayer.