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 Defining Moment”
Jeremiah 23:7-8 (ESV)
“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’  but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”
For everyone, there are defining moments in our lives that are essential to who we are. For Spider-Man, being bitten by a radioactive spider was a defining moment. For Queen Elsa, realizing the power of love was a defining moment. For the nation of Israel, the Exodus from Egypt was a defining moment.
The Exodus is the moment when they were freed from generations of slavery. This is when they become God’s people and His holy nation. At every Passover each year, Israel remembers, first, God sparing His people from the angel of death, second, Pharaoh finally releasing them, and third, marching through the Red Sea to freedom. Israel remembers the Lord as the one who “brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.”
But here, the Lord says they will no longer know Him as the God who brought them up out of Egypt, but as the God who gathered His people from the nations to which He had scattered them.
For the Israelites, the exile is the greatest tragedy possible. Their sins have been exposed. They have been judged by the Lord. They find that they are more sinful than they ever imagined. They may wonder if they are still God’s people at all. And what they find is that God is far more gracious and compassionate than they ever imagined.
For Christians, receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior for the first time is a defining moment. We have been brought from death to life. We are a new creation. We have gone from being children of the devil to children of God. This is incredible, but it is not the only defining moment in a Christian’s life.
After we become Christians, we are not perfect, not even close. In some ways, we are worse. How so? For though we know that Jesus gave His life to save us from sin and death, we still find ourselves betraying Him and pursuing sin nonetheless. If we allow the Spirit to speak to us we find that our love for Jesus turns out to be far more fragile and self-serving than we could ever imagine; but with this realization comes the truth that the unconditional love of the Father for us is far deeper and more faithful than we could ever ask.
Prayer: Father, thank You that You love me after all these years. You have proven Your love time and time again, yet I still doubt and am so easily led astray. Thank You that You are patient and kind, and You continue to walk with me.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezra 3
Correction and apology: A reader notified that the Bible reading abruptly changed from Hosea (July 21: Hosea 1-2: July 22: Hosea 3) to Ezra. That is a mistake. Sorry. The Bible reading for July 21 should have been Zephaniah 1-2 and for July 22, Zephaniah 3. The corrections have been made. So, if you are following the AMI QT reading plan, please read the book of Zephaniah retroactively. We will read Hosea at a later time. Thank you.
Lunch Break Study
Read Hosea 14:1–7 (ESV): Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.  Take with you words and return to the LORD; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay with bulls the vows of our lips.  Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride on horses; and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.”  I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.  I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;  his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon.  They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
Questions to Consider
- In this passage, how have God’s people turned away from Him?
- Who calls Israel to return to the Lord?
- If the people repent and turn back to God, what will He do?
- They have not fulfilled their vows (v. 2); they have looked to Assyria for salvation; they have worshiped idols; and they have not cared for the orphan (v. 3).
- God’s prophet Hosea does, but Hosea speaks on behalf of the Lord so the Lord, the one who has been offended, actually calls the people back to Himself.
- He will heal their apostasy (repair their faith), love them (v. 4), and give them new life and growth (v. 5-7).
Reflect on your day. Did God give you fresh appreciation of His love? Did God give you fresh conviction of your sin? Ask Him for eyes to see His kindness in such a way that it would lead you to repent of your lack of love for Him and ask for a greater devotion to Jesus Christ.