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
“Speak the Word”
Jeremiah 23:16-17, 28-32 (ESV)
Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.  They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”  Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the LORD.  Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?  Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another.  Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the LORD.’  Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the LORD.
Let’s say a well-meaning friend tells you that the latest health craze involves drinking bleach. They have read many blogs and heard many testimonials regarding the health benefits of bleach. This friend loves you and is completely sincere. Their heart is “in the right place,” but their advice will kill you.
In the days of Jeremiah, there are many well-meaning prophets who are sharing their dreams and their words from the Lord. They are declaring God’s love and salvation, but they have not been sent by the Lord. Though their message sounds right, they are not declaring God’s Word but their own imaginations.
These prophets, condemned by the Lord, appear to be compassionate, but they are leading God’s people toward death and destruction. They declare peace and blessing on a people who despise God’s Word and follow their own hearts. These words can only harden the people’s hearts and prevent them from repenting and receiving forgiveness and life.
We, too, can speak well-meaning, soothing words that mislead people into thinking God’s love allows them to remain in their sin. A world destined for judgment needs more than a Christianized version of worldly wisdom. With eternal life and death in the balance, we must declare something different than what a nonbeliever might share or agree with.
The ugliness of sin and the wrath of God are not polite topics of conversation, but love compels us to speak with the heart of God and plead that as many as possible would turn from their rebellion and be saved.
May God grant us compassion, courage, and opportunity to speak the full gospel of Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Father, I thank You that You tell us the truth that we might be saved and given eternal life in Your Son. Forgive me that I am often tempted to speak spiritual sounding lies to myself and to others. Thank You that when we hear the truth and turn to You, You are faithful to pour out Your grace. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezra 4
Lunch Break Study
Read Acts 3:14–15, 19-20 (ESV): But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,  and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses…  Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,  that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…
Questions to Consider
- What does Peter claim his hearers have done?
- What response does Peter aim for in his preaching?
- What is the fruit of such a response?
- They have denied God and killed Him.
- Peter hopes to lead his hearers into repentance, that they might turn from their sins.
- If the people repent, God will blot out their sins and bring times of refreshing! Peter does not intend to guilt or curse the people but to bring God’s blessing to them.
Reflect upon your day. Was there a moment when God gave you courage to speak the truth about Him? Was there a moment you were tempted to avoid or downplay the truth of God’s Word? If necessary, confess your fear of man and receive the forgiveness and refreshment of God. Ask for compassion and faith to declare the gospel when God opens doors for you to do so.