The AMI QT Devotionals from June 11 to 17 are provided by Pastor Yohan Lee of Remnant Church, New York City. Yohan graduated from University of Pennsylvania and Cairn University, where he studied theology. He is married to Mandie, and they have four adorable children.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Patience and Punishment”
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Listen to the terms of this covenant and tell them to the people of Judah and to those who live in Jerusalem. 3 Tell them that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Cursed is the one who does not obey the terms of this covenant— 4 the terms I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.’ I said, ‘Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. 5 Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey’—the land you possess today.” I answered, “Amen, Lord.” 6 The Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them. 7 From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, “Obey me.” 8 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’”
Several years ago, I watched a recording of a parenting seminar given at the Church of Southland by John Rosemond. One of Rosemond’s big things was that parents need to be firm—meaning, give directions only once, and punish severely and overwhelmingly when they aren’t obeyed. Rosemond, humorously, compares kids to degenerate gamblers—they’re willing to play “slots” with their obedience/punishment, even if they only win on rare occasions. So in practice, you tell your child once to clean up his toys, then you walk away; upon your return, if the toys aren’t cleaned up, you punish the child huge (example given was three weeks of going to bed right after supper, so you’d have to be willing to cancel all events that occur after dinner time—no sports games, music lessons, parties, etc.). The idea being that once a child has tasted such a torturous punishment, he will think twice about disobeying again.
As a young parent, I walked away from that seminar thinking, This is amazing! I’m going to do this! However, after several years and more kids, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my kids are gonna be wild and never listen to me. It’s not that I don’t agree with Rosemond’s methods— I still think it’s brilliant—but I just realized I’m too much of a softee to make it work. You see, when my kids cry and beg me for another chance, I just melt and give in. I don’t see the disobedience in them; I only see those three-year-olds who don’t know any better. So, perhaps to my detriment, I give them chance after chance, hoping that next time they will learn.
Yet in my weakness, I take comfort in the thought that perhaps God is more like me than tough guy and probably awesome father John Rosemond. By the time Jeremiah walked the streets of Jerusalem in the 6th century BCE, this “covenant,” referenced in today’s passage, had been established for several hundreds of years with Moses. And unfortunately, most of the Old Testament painfully details how time and again, God’s people broke covenant by worshipping other gods and committing evil act after evil act. So while God’s words and eventual punishment may seem harsh, ask yourself this: How many times did God actually relent? When you realize it is probably in the hundreds, you begin to see God as patient, not punishing. While we’re at it, let’s make this a little more personal: How many times a month, week, day do you mess up? If you’re like me, the answer is, “a lot”; but chances are more often than not, you are recipients of God’s gracious patience—not his punishment.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for your grace and patience in my life. Thank You that You loved us so much that You sent Jesus for us. Help me to overcome the thought that You are out to pounce on my mistakes, but to see how patient and kind You are. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 17
Lunch Break Study
Read Galatians 6:7-10: Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Questions to Consider
- Given that those who are believers get mercy when we deserve wrath, how can we explain Paul’s statement that we reap what we sow?
- Why is endurance so important in the Christian life? Are you growing weary of doing good?
- Why do you suppose Paul emphasizes doing good to those in the “household of faith”? What implications does that have for you personally?
- A couple of possibilities: First, our salvation should be viewed as a process, where we are being transformed more and more into the image of Christ; therefore, we continually do “good” to become more like Him. Second, he could be talking about reaping heavenly rewards, in addition to salvation. In the radical middle theology, it’s likely both.
- Christian life is often compared to a marathon, where completing is a worthy goal. In that sense, finishing our life well and following Christ all the way to the end is something we should not take as granted—we need endurance.
- Jesus says that the world will know that we are His disciples by the way we love one another (John 13:35). Perhaps we need to take special care of fellow church members and other believers.
Today’s themes were God’s patience and endurance; in many ways, two sides of the same coin. Are there areas in your life where you are tempted to give in to? Perhaps it could be a strained relationship, a situation in life, or perhaps a character issue? Are you willing to endure patiently? Can you trust that God has a plan and is good through your difficulties?