The AMI Devotional Blogs from June 25-July 1 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology. He is married to Esther.
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
“Scars of Remembrance”
Jeremiah 15:19 (ESV)
Therefore thus says the Lord: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them.”
“Do as I say, not as I do.” How many times do we see this happen in our own lives? I would propose to you that we do this more than we think: we are quick to point out what others need to do; we are experts when it comes to what others need to repent of, or what others need to be more disciplined in. But when we turn the magnifying lens back on our own lives, we don’t see our own weaknesses. Parents are even more likely to fall into this category, as well as leaders. The higher up the leader becomes, the less people there are to point out their faults or their weaknesses. Yet Scriptures remind us to be careful to take care of our own hearts in regards to repentance and restoration.
The irony of this passage is that Jeremiah has been telling Judah to turn back to the Lord. He is telling them to repent so that God would restore them, and that God is merciful and will forgive them (although God tells him repeatedly to stop interceding for them). Yet we see the Lord reply to Jeremiah, urging him to repent and turn back to Him so that He can restore him. What did Jeremiah need to repent from? It seems as if he was starting to harbor bitterness towards God, that God would turn the entire nation against him even though he was only trying to be faithful to God. He was starting to think that God was out to harm him. Whatever Jeremiah was going through and thinking, God was asking him to return and repent so that God could restore him and continue to use him as a prophet.
We may not be in as dire of a situation as Jeremiah, but the Lord reminds us to turn to Him and seek His restoration, because we are all in need of it! Whether you are a teacher, a parent, a spiritual leader, a mentor, or anyone who speaks into other’s lives, we are all responsible for keeping our hearts tender so that we may continually repent and seek restoration. Leaders, let’s not get caught up with simply telling others what to do and forget to turn to the Lord yourself! We’ve seen too many leaders fall because they were not careful in taking care of their own hearts. God wants to use His people, and He wants to use you as a leader—provided that you turn to Him in repentance on a regular basis.
Prayer: Father God, help my heart to stay tender and pure before You. I desire to be used by You. As I examine my own heart, I pray that You would highlight things in my life that I need to repent of – that I would be restored and to continually be used by You in a powerful way. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 35
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV): Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Question to Consider
- How should we live this life, according to this passage?
- What is Paul afraid of in verse 27?
- Especially as it is the middle of summer, what are some spiritual disciplines that you have become lax about? What are things you need to be mindful of as you run this race?
- Corinth was home of the Isthmian games, which was a festival of athletic and musical competitions. The Corinthians would have seen firsthand the intensity of the training and the tenacity needed by these athletes. So Paul is comparing how the believer’s life should be like those of these athletes. If these athletes train so hard for a perishable medal, how much harder should we train for imperishable rewards?
- One commentary says that the preaching refers to the “office of the herald”—meaning, that he would be the one telling the guidelines of the games, displaying the rewards, and encouraging the participants. As the herald, he must remember that he is part of this as well and should be careful lest after it all, he is disqualified from the reward that he is talking about.
- Personal response.
Tonight, spend some time in reflection on ways that you need to “return to Him,” and believe in your heart that He restores those who turn to Him. May His loving kindness draw you into a place of intimacy and may you experience His grace and mercy in the process.