August 10, Friday

The AMI QT Devotionals for August 5-11 are provided by Doug Tritton. Doug, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is currently serving as a staff at Symphony Church (Boston), while pursuing a M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary.  He is married to Cindy and they are proud parents of Audrey.

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“All That Glitters”

Jeremiah 28:1-4

In that same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, Hananiah the son of Azzur, the prophet from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and all the people, saying, 2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. 4 I will also bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, declares the Lord, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.”

There is a proverbial saying that goes like this: “All that glitters is not gold”—meaning, the appearance of something does not necessarily tell you about its true nature. For example, imagine looking at a shiny new Porsche; it could look beautiful from the outside, but this does not tell you anything about the quality of its engine. It may not even work! A shiny Porsche that has a broken engine is useless!

When I was in college, someone approached me and invited me to come to a Bible study, promising that there would be ice cream there. As a young Christian, I thought to myself, “Ice cream and the Bible, sounds good!” However, before going, someone from my church cautioned me that this group was actually a cult—this group would often invite people to their Bible studies but then pressure people to keep coming back and make it very difficult to ever get away. All that glitters is not gold.

The practice of discernment is very important in the Christian life. Previously, we talked about the yoke of lies and being able to sift through all these voices and ideas we constantly hear which requires discernment. The difficult thing about discernment is that we need to look deeper than appearances. Hananiah’s prophecy, in today’s passage, sounded good on the outside, and it was something the Israelites wanted to believe! Yet, it was wrong, it was not from God. Discernment requires one to go deeper than the appearance of the message.

But how can we see beneath mere appearances? How can we actually discern between all the voices that we hear – voices on TV, the internet, our podcasts, or even in our own minds? Well, unfortunately, we really cannot do this on our own, because we are easily swayed by our wants and preferences. But spiritual discernment requires the Spirit—the Spirit of God. When King Solomon was on the throne, he asked God for wisdom—specifically, he asked that he may be able to “discern between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9).  And God answered this prayer for Solomon. This is a prayer that God answers.  So today, let’s ask God for the ability to discern, so that we may be a people who look beyond appearances and see things as God does.

Prayer: Lord, teach us to be a people who look beyond appearances. We know that You are a person who does that. You do not judge by appearances, but You look at the heart. May we not be swayed by things that seem good on the outside, for we know there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing around us. We need Your help. We need Your Spirit, so, Lord, send Your Spirit upon us that we may have discernment.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 11


Lunch Break Study 

Read Matthew 7:15-20: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Questions to Consider

  1. How do we recognize false prophets, the ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing?
  2. What happens to trees that bear bad fruit?
  3. How should we be careful about our own words?

Notes

  1. Jesus teaches us that we can recognize them by looking at their fruit. Things we hear should not simply “sound good.” If these ideas and messages don’t bear fruit, if they don’t bring transformation, if they don’t lead us closer to Jesus, then that is bad fruit. Discernment requires caution and care.
  2. The trees that bear bad fruit are cut down and thrown into the fire. This means that they do not last. Ideas that sound good and may go viral for a time, getting million shares in a day, may just fizzle and fade. Trees that bear good fruit last, they do not simply go viral; they stick and they bring transformation. They bring the kingdom in a greater way.
  3. Though the warning in this passage is about false prophets around us, we need to be careful lest we become a false prophet. Sometimes it can be easier to not offend anyone by being pleasant sounding, but God calls us to speak the truth—even if that means we won’t be popular or comfortable. Discernment is not just external; it should also be internal—with our own words.

Evening Reflection

Take time this evening to ask God for discernment. Reflect on this verse: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). Our God gives wisdom and discernment to us freely. As mentioned earlier, it’s a prayer He answers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s