Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Thinking the Things of God”
Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent 5 and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind;
After I got baptized in high school after having encountered God’s forgiveness at a youth retreat, I remember wrestling with the foundational question, “How do I actually follow Jesus now?” The more vulnerable thought was, “How do I function in the same environment I have been living in and overcome temptations and represent Christ in my life?” I was afraid to “fail” and see my baptism as just a “passing event” that didn’t lead to any difference in my life.
It clicked to me that discipleship wasn’t about managing my behavior nor filling my life with works that made me feel righteous. Instead, it was about re-tuning my desire to think what God thinks, to like what He likes, and to despise what He despises; and gradually, I saw that I desired to do God’s command. At that time, my greatest hurdle was overcoming the habit of lying to my mom and rebelling against her. Seeing myself want to listen to her wishes shocked me and that was when I knew, I’m changing! It became obvious that sin came naturally, and no one had to command or teach me how to lie, cheat, or gossip; so learning to desire God’s ways was definitely the work of God upon my life and required a re-tuning of my appetite for God’s Word.
In this morning’s passage, God charges Judah for having repeatedly indulged in the worship of false gods in the holy city, which God “never commanded, or spoke of, nor did it ever enter [His] mind.” They showed adoration for false gods, which neither former good kings nor the godly men of Israel had ever known. Though Jerusalem and its temple were built to honor God, His people had made it an alien place by their worship of false gods. No one taught the Israelites how to worship false gods; it was something that felt good and gratifying in the moment, and became a collective lifestyle, leading to destruction.
Psalm 119:104 says, “Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” To resist what is wrong isn’t something we can do forcefully or conjure up. It comes through the path of increasing in understanding of God’s Word, and as a result, we grow to hate evil and love God’s ways. This morning, let’s ask the Lord to give us a spiritual appetite for His Word, so that His thoughts may permeate into our thoughts and actions.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, lead me to live out what You command in your word so that my life may be characterized by Your wisdom and understanding. Sometimes the values or habits that I live out do not align with Your values and commandments. I pray that You would help me realize any habits in my actions, thoughts, and speech that are displeasing to You and empower me to replace them with what is pleasing to You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Daniel 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8: “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. 6 So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? 8 Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?”
Questions to Consider
- According to this passage, how are the children of Israel called to go in and possess the land God promised to them?
- What makes Israel (God’s people) unique and distinct from other nations who worship other gods?
- What promise of God do you sense He is leading you to take possession of? What commands, direction, or word of wisdom are you called to hold fast to, so that you may position yourself to experience God’s promises?
- To inherit and walk into the blessing of the Promised Land, the Lord instructs the children of Israel to keep and obey the commandments that He has given them (to not take anything away from the Law nor to add anything to it).
- Israel’s God is “near to them who call on Him,” and He is distinct in that He speaks to Israel. Though they didn’t see God, they heard His voice at the giving of the Law and covenant. There is revelation and relationship involved between Israel and God. They will be viewed as wise if they hold fast to God’s laws.
- Personal response.
What would it look like to go about the rest of your week if you were to “set your mind” on the things of God? Reflect on Romans 8:5-8: For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.