July 23, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from July 23-29 are provided by Pastor Jason Sato of OTR in Cincinnati.  Jason, a graduate of UC San Diego (B.S.) and Westminster Theological Seminary in California (M.Div.), is married to Jessica, and they have three young  children: Jonah, Lily, and Ayla (nine months old).

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“The King of Kings”

Jeremiah 23:1–4 (ESV)

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. [2] Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. [3] Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. [4] I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD.

Imagine that you are an ordinary Storm Trooper working on the Death Star.  The day is going well but here comes Darth Vader and it appears that he’s having a bad day.  Due to the terror in your heart, you accidentally trip and fall.  Thankfully, he laughs instead of using the force to choke you to death.  You realize this is not a healthy working environment but at this point you don’t have a lot of options.

Similar to this storm trooper, people of the ancient world did not have a lot of options when it came to who their leaders were.  Kings were often chosen by lineage or by other kings with large military forces.  Leaders ruled through fear and with absolute power.  They were often more concerned with themselves than with the people they led.

But Israel is supposed to be different.  Israel’s kings are to be shepherds of God’s people, caring for them and leading them into the blessing of God.  Unfortunately, most of Israel’s kings are no better and sometimes even worse than the surrounding kings.

Thankfully, for God’s people, their human king is not at the top of the food chain.  No, the kings of Israel are responsible to the King of Kings!  As the Good Shepherd, God declares woe to leaders of God’s people who destroy and scatter the sheep.  He will hold them accountable for their evil deeds, and He will gather His sheep from the nations to which they’d been scattered.  Despite the wicked shepherds of Israel, the Lord will make His sheep fruitful and they “shall fear no more, nor be dismayed.”

In this imperfect world, our leaders may not always have the heart of the Father whether they be bosses, parents, or pastors.  But we are free from the need to judge them because God alone is their Judge.  We are free from the need to rebel against them because the Lord will provide for us.  We are free from the need to fear or appease them because God is in control.  We are free to fear God only and submit to our earthly authorities as He commands us because the Lord is our Shepherd.

Prayer: Father, thank You that You are my Shepherd!  Forgive me that I am often tempted to take matters into my own hands.  Give me faith to trust in You and submit to the leaders you have placed in my life. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Ezra 1


Lunch Break Study

Read Hebrews 13:17 (ESV): Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does God appoint spiritual leaders in our lives?
  2. To whom are our leaders accountable?
  3. When we resist our leaders or make it difficult for them to lead us, who suffers?

Notes

  1. God appoints spiritual leaders to keep watch over our souls. He knows that we are often most blind to our own sins and we need others who can speak the Word of God into our lives.
  2. Our leaders are accountable to God. Human leaders like politicians or CEOs are accountable to those whom they are leading, but spiritual leaders are not ultimately accountable to their flock but to God Himself.  This is a far more serious thing.
  3. When we resist our leaders, we suffer! God knows that our leaders are not perfect.  He does not ask us to submit to our leaders because we trust them but ultimately because we trust Him to work for our good as we obey Him in faith.

Evening Reflection

Reflect on any interactions you’ve had today with a human leader or authority figure.  Did your actions and thoughts reflect trust in the Lord?  Ask Jesus to give you humility and wisdom so you can honor Him in these relationships.

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