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
“Discipline is Not Rejection”
Jeremiah 24:1–7 (ESV)
After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, and the metal workers, and had brought them to Babylon, the LORD showed me this vision: behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the LORD.  One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten.  And the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”  Then the word of the LORD came to me:  “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans.  I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up.  I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
Oftentimes after I discipline one of my children they want to be close to me. I imagine they want to know that I still love them. And love is truly what biblical discipline is about. We struggle to understand this, but discipline is not the same as rejection.
After generations of unfaithfulness, God sends Judah into exile at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. The Lord shows Jeremiah a vision of a basket of figs. Some were very good figs and others were very bad figs. Surprisingly, the good figs are those who are sent out of the Promised Land into exile.
While God is angry with their sin and there is an element of judgment, the Lord has not rejected His people. He is disciplining them for their good. In exile, God’s people are forced to face the ugliness of their sin and are given the opportunity to repent and turn back to God. If the people had not faced God’s judgment, they would more readily rest easy in their sins, and their hearts would grow steadily harder. But God’s desire is that His people turn back before the final Day of Judgment comes and it’s too late for them to do so.
When I was a teenager, I was in a self-inflicted downward spiral and my parents were often frustrated with me. In the midst of a lecture, my dad said, “You’re lucky we haven’t given up on you!” More so now, but even then I knew that this was true. It would have been easier for my parents to leave me alone and let me do whatever I wanted, but they kept loving me the best way they knew how.
In every hardship, God is exposing what is really inside our hearts. He does not do this because He enjoys watching us squirm, but because He intends to minister to us, set us free, and give us a heart to know Him if we will let Him. The Father is not content to let us slip away from Him without a fight.
Prayer: Father, thank You that You desire to show me mercy! Open my eyes that I might see my need and draw near to You. May I know that discipline is not rejection, and that in all things You are calling me back to You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezra 5
Lunch Break Study
Read Hebrews 12:5–11 (ESV): And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Questions to Consider
- In this passage, what is the mark of a child of God?
- What is the heart of God in the midst of discipline?
- What is meant to be the fruit of God’s discipline?
- Being disciplined is the mark of truly being a child of God. Only illegitimate children are not disciplined.
- God does not discipline us because He is fed up with us. Rather, He disciplines us because of His great love for us.
- God’s discipline is meant to produce holiness and the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Reflect on your day. What moments of discipline occurred? Were you able to respond in repentance and faith? If so, thank God for this outpouring of grace. If not, take a moment to repent and seek God’s face now and thank Him that grace is available to you still.