The AMI QT devotionals from July 16-22 are provided by Cami King. Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Which Will You Choose?”
Jeremiah 21:8-10 (NRSV)
And to this people you shall say: Thus says the Lord: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 Those who stay in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but those who go out and surrender to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have their lives as a prize of war. 10 For I have set my face against this city for evil and not for good, says the Lord: it shall be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.
A famous poem in American literature (popular internationally as well) is Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” which famously ends: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
I do not purport to fully understand this poem and am skeptical that masses of people do either, since poetry tends to be fairly obscure and subject to wide interpretation (obviously not my favorite literary genre). But I imagine what speaks to so many from this piece is the familiar experience of being at a crossroad where we must make a choice.
In our passage this morning, the people of God have a difficult choice before them. They can choose the way of life—which at first glance actually seems to be the way of death (surrendering to a conquering enemy)—or choose the way of death (staying and fighting for their lives). The Lord essentially says to them, “Yield to me (by surrendering yourselves to the enemy) and you will live. Or, continue to take your life into your own hands (fight) and you will be destroyed.”
Many years later God, in the person of Jesus, would say something similar: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:34b-35). Although the situation facing Jesus’ disciples in Mark (and us today) is quite different from that facing God’s people in Jeremiah, who were being punished for their rebellion, the principle Jesus offers is the same: surrendering to the Lord, yielding our life to God, and trusting in Jesus is the only way to life. And oftentimes on this side of heaven, that surrender will appear deadly (no one thought life could come through a cross or glory through humiliation before Christ).
No matter what circumstances we face, we can be sure that there is only one way to life: trust and hope in God. And no matter how competent we feel and how tempting it is to rely on our ourselves or other things, any other way will ultimately lead to death. What will you choose today?
Prayer: Almighty God, You have proven again and again that You are worthy of my trust. You are powerful and holy and know better than I. And You have demonstrated Your unfailing love for me. Help me to fully depend on You today so that I may live. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Daniel 10
Lunch Break Study
Read Romans 8:1-13 (NET Bible): There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. 6 For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is your life because of righteousness. 11 Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you. 12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh 13 (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.
Questions to Consider
- What do we learn from vv.1-4 about the difference between living “according to the flesh” and “living according to the Spirit”?
- How does Paul (the writer of Romans) describe life according to the flesh? What is the end result of this way of life?
- How does Paul describe life according to the Spirit? What would it mean for you to choose this way of life today?
- Living by the flesh means relying on our own ability to do what is right and be in right relationship with God (or be “a good person” as we often say today), instead of relying on Jesus to make us right before God and teach us how to be good. Living according to the flesh means independence, autonomy, and individualism, while living according to the Spirit means complete dependence on God and identification with Christ and the people of God.
- Outlook or worldview shaped by things of the flesh (the world and everything in it). Hostility to God, refusal and inability to submit to the ways of God, inability to please God. // The end result is death—both eternally (for those who refuse to receive Jesus as Savior) and in various areas of this present life (even for believers who insist on living according to the flesh).
- Outlook and worldview shaped by the things of the Spirit (the wisdom and ways of God). The end result is life and peace. // Personal response.
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12)
Spend some time this evening reflecting on the proverb above. Are there things in your life keeping you from complete surrender and full dependence on God? Offer those things to the Lord and ask for wisdom to see as God sees and courage to do as Jesus would do.