September 3, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from September 3-9 are provided by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S. F. Mark, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.), has been married to Mira for 20 years; they have two children, Jeremiah and Carissa.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“To Drink or Not to Drink”

Jeremiah 35:1-7 (ESV)

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: “Go to the house of the Rechabites and speak with them and bring them to the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers; then offer them wine to drink.” So I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah and his brothers and all his sons and the whole house of the Rechabites. I brought them to the house of the Lord into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the officials, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, keeper of the threshold. Then I set before the Rechabites pitchers full of wine, and cups, and I said to them, “Drink wine.” But they answered, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, ‘You shall not drink wine, neither you nor your sons forever. You shall not build a house; you shall not sow seed; you shall not plant or have a vineyard; but you shall live in tents all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn.’

To drink or not to drink, that is the question! I recently read an article on the latest research on alcohol consumption, and the conclusion of the study was that any amount of alcohol is bad for your health. (If you are interested, the study can be found here: http://time.com/5376552/how-much-alcohol-to-drink-study/). We have been told for years that red wine is good for cardiovascular health, but it turns out that any moderate health benefits that you get is outweighed by the other risk factors that come with drinking. Coincidentally, I also talked with a friend who gave up drinking her daily glass of wine, which immediately resulted in a drop in blood pressure and helped decrease her feelings of anxiety.

Although we understand that the consumption of alcohol is a Christian liberty (after all, we have been told at nauseum that Jesus turned water into wine by those who staunchly defend their right to drink), we should note that abstinence from alcohol has always been a mark of special devotion. Going back to the Nazerite vow in Numbers 6, we see that any period of special thanksgiving and focus on God was to be done without any wine for a set period of time. I believe that it would be beneficial for some of us in the church to make a similar vow, because, in honesty, some of us drink too liberally and without any thought to how easily our liberties can turn into license.

Sometimes in life, God places tests in our path to refine our resolve and our obedience. We don’t know much about the Rechabites, but what we do know is that God recognized their noble character and their willingness to be different from the rest of society. As Christians, we too are called to be in the world but not of the world. If our views on alcohol are seen as prudish by the standards of society, then so be it. In the end God will see the motivations of our hearts and whether we decide to drink or not to drink, He alone can measure the things that have been done for His glory.

Prayer: Father, I pray that we would honor You with every area of our lives, even what touches our lips and goes into our bodies. Our bodies are a temple for Your Holy Spirit, and as such, it is not our own but something that has been bought with a price. Help us to understand that no warning or commandment was given to burden us unnecessarily. Give us the grace to be credible witnesses to the world by setting us apart from the world. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Job 15


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Corinthians 10:23-33: “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the abiding “rule” that governs the exercise of our Christian liberties?
  2. Why does it matter what others think as long as my conscience is clear?
  3. For what higher purpose should we limit our liberties?

Notes

  1. As we think about the liberties that we have as believers, it is important for us to recognize that just because something is lawful does not mean that it is helpful or even good. Some of the factors that we need to account for is whether something is bad for our health or stumbling to other believers.
  2. In our highly individualized society, we tend to forget that Christianity was meant to be other-centered. How we affect someone else’s conscience is very important in the way we determine the limits of our freedoms. Even if your own personal conscience is clear on a certain issue, you still have to take into consideration the conscience of someone whose faith might be weakened by your action. As Paul writes elsewhere, this is the law of love.
  3. Christians are called to endure limitations to their liberties for the purpose of saving some. Paul makes it clear that he tries to please everyone, not because he is a people pleaser, but because of his overriding mission in life, which is to bring as many people into a saving relationship with Christ as he can. If that means not exercising some of his liberties, that is a small price to pay for the chance to win another priceless soul for Jesus.

Evening Reflection

What does it mean to do all things for the glory of God? We often fall into the temptation of making the glory of God a cliché instead of a driving motivation for life. Today, did you make decisions based on God’s glory?   Consider how your life can best reflect the glory of God, just as Christ was the perfect reflection of His Father’s glory.

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