September 21, Friday

Today’s AMI Devotional is written by Jin Ha Lee who serves at Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia.  Jin Ha, a CPA, graduated from Drexel University and is getting married this November. Congratulations!

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Listening Ear”

Jeremiah 38:17-20

Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If you will surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. 18 But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.” 19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, lest I be handed over to them and they deal cruelly with me.” 20 Jeremiah said, “You shall not be given to them. Obey now the voice of the Lord in what I say to you, and it shall be well with you, and your life shall be spared.”

There was a season in my life when I sought advice from many different older brothers and sisters—I would go to this person to get his advice, call this person to get her perspective, and on-and-on. But, I had a problem. In going to many people, I wasn’t really hearing what they were saying, but I was looking for people to give the answer I wanted to hear.

King Zedekiah was had a similar problem. He sought Jeremiah for God’s Word multiple times and even heard what God said, yet he lacked faith. King Zedekiah was not seeking after an answer from the Lord to direct the course of his life—though he cared enough to seek it—but not enough to respond in faith to it.

The context of this passage was that the Babylonians had been temporarily deterred by the Egyptians. It was only a matter of time before the Babylonians would be at his doorsteps. In desperation Zedekiah sought out Jeremiah—again. Jeremiah gave a clear answer from the Lord: “…if you surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live….” It was actually a very gracious response to the mess that Zedekiah created by rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar who had set Zedekiah as king. He had the chance to save not only his life but his family and the city.

However, Zedekiah immediately responds that he’s scared of the deserters mistreating him. Maybe he felt that the Israelites would be upset at him and blame him for the loss, or he felt embarrassed for starting a conflict with the Babylonians that he couldn’t win. In any case, his fears spoke more loudly in his heart than God’s Word. He focused so much on his fears that he missed out on the chance to respond to God’s Word.

Going back to my story, the situation I was trying to handle blew up.  But through that experience I was humbled and learned to seek what God has to say through godly counsel more than what I wanted to hear. It was a very valuable lesson! Let’s ask ourselves this question:  Am I truly ready to listen and respond to God in faith when God speaks to me? Or am I just going to ignore His word if it’s not what I want to hear?

Prayer: Lord, we want to listen intently to Your Word. Would You please reveal Yourself to us and help us to know You intimately? Please help us to respond in faith, knowing that You are holy, loving, and good. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Job 35


Lunch Break Study

Read Acts 18:9-10: And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Questions to Consider

  1. How did God reveal Himself to Paul during the hardships of missions?
  2. What does Paul’s response show about what he believes about God?
  3. How can we live by faith despite our fears or difficult scenarios?

Note

  1. God revealed Himself by encouraging Paul in a vision. He told Paul not be afraid but to continue his mission for the gospel, knowing that God is with him and that He would protect him. God also let Paul know that he was not alone but surrounded by believers. Up to this point Paul had already been persecuted by the Jews from Thessalonica who chased him out of Thessalonica and Berea.
  2. Paul believed in the Lord and stayed at the city for one year and six months; he had faith that the Lord was with him. His response in 2 Corinthians showed that he believed that God’s grace was sufficient for him, even in difficulties and weaknesses.
  3. Personal response. Zedekiah focused so much on his fears, instead of trusting in God, whereas, though Paul also faced difficult and costly situations throughout his mission trips, he focused on the Lord. Both of their actions showed where their faith was. I don’t think faith is a matter of rolling up our sleeves and blindly jumping headlong into situations in our own strength. Certain situations have legitimate concerns, costs, and fears. But, spending time with the Lord, seeking Him, being in an intimate relationship with Him and the church helps us to move forward in faith by His encouragement, grace, and love. We can ask God to show us and remind us of who He is, and that we could look at Him rightly and step forward despite the fears, difficulties, and weaknesses.

Evening Reflection

How has the Lord revealed Himself to you recently? Although different situations we face may bring about fear, hardship, or even apathy, we can find rest, strength, and joy in the Lord. Let’s ask the Lord to reveal Himself to us, and that we would grow in an intimate and genuine relationship with Him.

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