Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Christine Li of Remnant Church in Manhattan.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. 2 So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: 3 “For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.”
The “midlife crisis,” as commonly called, is a phenomenon when individuals who feel dissatisfied with the repetition and pace of their life may desire to make some drastic changes. Factors could range from the unhappy observation that their stamina and energy are slipping or that their best efforts are not applied in meaningful places. Individuals may quit their jobs or begin to spend their time pursuing exciting hobbies that will stimulate them: fast cars, thrilling travel excursions, etc.
Jeremiah might likely have encountered a similar crisis. He has been going to the people for twenty-three years, and still no progress has been made. Time after time, he entreats them to amend their ways, but they continue to rebel. But he has not yet given up. It is possible that, at some point, he must have wondered whether his best years were well spent serving a people who continued to ignore his prophecies. How much longer must this continue?
We will all encounter some hard times and situations that may seem interminably long. What can we learn from Jeremiah to gain some perseverance and not be paralyzed by how far away our breakthrough seems? The most helpful thought I have around perseverance is that it is wholly dependent on grace; it comes from God. Try as we might, we cannot create lasting tenacity in our character. But this is good news for us. Just as Jeremiah perseveres because God continues to equip and send him back to the people of Judah, we too can be similarly strengthened by God.
Do you find that you need strength to persevere? Today, we will not be able to sign up for an ambitious, twenty-year commitment of perseverance. But, we can ask God to make us faithful with each small opportunity that comes our way. By taking a day at a time in His power, eventually weeks, months, and years will pass. Let’s start with today, ask Him to give us the ability and power to plow through, and trust Him to snowball it into a lifestyle of perseverance.
Prayer: Father, You know that I am weak and do not have the natural stamina to stay faithful and perseverant. However, by Your grace, I can be strengthened to stand firm each day. Help me to take each opportunity to be faithful and create a long-term perseverance in me. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezra 9
Lunch Break Study
Read Philippians 4:4-13: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Questions to Consider
- The apostle Paul experienced no shortage of discouraging circumstances, yet he suggests that it is possible to always rejoice. How does he instruct the believers here?
- Paul quickly follows with a charge for the believers to put into practice the things they have learned from him. Why is this?
- According to this passage, what are the keys to Paul’s ability to stay content in any situation? Let’s take hold of what he teaches and dwell also on the qualities he focuses our attention to.
- Paul says that the peace that comes from God guards not only our hearts but also our minds, and he seems to suggest that receiving peace from God is one crucial component for our joy. The first encouragement is prayer: by drawing close to God, we receive peace that He is settling all things on our account. The second instruction is training our minds: we must contemplate excellent and praiseworthy things (the most excellent and praiseworthy being God Himself as, well as the work He has done in our lives / in one another).
- It is likely that the believers do not lack philosophy or theory here. Paul knows it is not just enough to “know” how to receive God’s peace—the power comes from putting that knowledge into practice. By doing so, the believers will experience both the promised peace as well as the very God who gives peace.
- Paul’s contentment does not come from the measurement of what he has tangibly but from the internal spiritual richness. To recap what we have observed, Paul cultivates this by bringing all needs before God in prayer to be reminded that God can provide. He also directs and focuses his thoughts on the beauty and loveliness of God. These actions help Paul stay aware of the spiritual realm and God’s presence, which redefines all his experiences.
What are your thoughts on perseverance in current situations? Are there steps we can take to receive help from God? Let’s spend some time reflecting on areas how and where we would like God to help us stand firm.