August 17, Friday

The AMI QT Devotionals from August 13-19 are provided by Pastor Barry Kang, who heads Symphony Church in Boston.  Barry, a graduate of Stanford University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Sunny (an amazing worship leader, chef, and math wizard). They are the proud parents of Caleb and Micah.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“God’s plans are for our good!”

Jeremiah 29:11-14

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Let’s review the circumstances of the Jewish exiles in Babylon:

  • Israel had been living in rebellion against God for centuries, ignoring prophet after prophet who urged them to turn back to the Lord.
  • Finally, God uses Babylon as a means of disciplining Israel. Babylon conquers Jerusalem and destroys the temple.
  • The elites of Jerusalem were uprooted and brought to live in Babylon by their captors.
  • Prophets in Jerusalem and Babylon begin to prophesy that God will bring the exiles back soon and they just need hold on for a little longer. But God, through Jeremiah, categorically denies that these prophets are from Him.
  • Instead, Jeremiah tells the exiles that God wants them to get used to living in Babylon (the enemy state) and even start caring for Babylon (again the enemy).
  • Instead of two years, it will be seventy years before they return. Many of the current exiles hearing this message will not be alive then.

It seems like it’s all bad news so far.  The Jewish exiles were not where they wanted to be, they were not doing what they wanted to be doing, and the when of God’s plan didn’t match their timing.  Then in verse 11, God tells His people that in all of this, He has a plan—a  plan to prosper them, not to harm them, a plan to give them a future and a hope.  His plan was in operation—not in spite of all the bad stuff, but even through the bad stuff.  And this is true for us as well.  God has a plan for us—a plan to prosper us, not to harm us.  A plan for our future and to give us hope.   Sometimes our circumstances may suggest otherwise to our limited perspectives, but the truth is always that God has a plan, and it is always for our ultimate good!  God’s cosmic plan saw its peak in the death and resurrection of Jesus, which means that we don’t have to worry about our tomorrows, because Christ holds that tomorrow in His hands.  Let us seek to submit our plans—all the when’s, where’s, and what’s—to Him today!

Prayer: Father, we thank You for Your love and plan to pour grace and truth into our lives.  No matter our circumstances, help us to trust that Your hands are around us.  I want to be surrendered to Your control, Your timing, and to Your will, knowing that Your ultimate goal is for our welfare.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Esther 6


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 8:28-31: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Questions to Consider

  1. For whom does Paul say “all things work together for good”?
  2. What kind of “good” do you think Paul is talking about here?
  3. What does passage tell us about the purpose to which we are called (vv. 29-30)?

Notes

  1. Romans 8:28 tells us that the Holy Spirit (c.f. Romans 8:26-27) will work all things for good for “those who love God,” who are also “called according to his purposes.” This is not a general promise of ambiguous good for all people, but specifically for those who love God and live according to His will.
  2. Again, the Bible does not promise general, subjective good for all people. The “good” here in context is our “ultimate good” or “true good”; it cannot mean anything we might see as good, such as pleasure or fame or fulfilled personal ambition.  Rather, the “good” flows out of God’s good purposes.
  3. Romans 8:29-30 tells us that God purposes us through His plan to become like Christ. We are also to become part of one family with Christ as the oldest brother.  Finally, God’s purpose is that we would be justified (i.e. declared “not guilty”) and also glorified!

Evening Reflection

Part of trusting in God’s plans requires that we redefine what we consider to be “good.” Let us reflect upon what we desire (consider to be good) and compare it to what God considers good.  Can we surrender and adopt new definitions of good if necessary?  Journal your meditations.

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