October 18, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Jeremiah 46:14-17

The word that the Lord spoke to Jeremiah the prophet about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to strike the land of Egypt: 14 “Declare in Egypt, and proclaim in Migdol;

 proclaim in Memphis and Tahpanhes; say, ‘Stand ready and be prepared, for the sword shall devour around you.’ 15 Why are your mighty ones face down? They do not stand because the Lord thrust them down. 16 He made many stumble, and they fell, and they said one to another, ‘Arise, and let us go back to our own people and to the land of our birth, because of the sword of the oppressor.’ 17 Call the name of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, ‘Noisy one who lets the hour go by.’

St. Augustine was probably the most influential Christian thinker after the apostles. His contribution to the church has been felt throughout the ages especially in the formation of Christian thought around the Fall. He concludes that the Fall was due to human pride, where Adam and Eve thought of themselves more highly than they ought. Instead of yielding to the boundaries laid out by God (not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil), they chose to trust in their own judgments and ate from the forbidden tree. Pride blinded them from recognizing that autonomous living apart from God leads to death rather than to more freedom and life. In other words, pride always keeps us from seeing our need for God.

In today’s passage, we are once again reading through Jeremiah’s prophetic judgments upon the nation of Egypt. Their doom is imminent and inevitable. At first glance, it would be easy to see God in this passage as one who is simply angry, ready to lash out at His enemies. But when we read carefully, we see a God who had given the Egyptians a chance to repent. In verse 17, it says, “noisy one who lets the hour go by.” Many commentators suggest that the statement meant that Pharaoh did not seek God’s mercy and help but rather chose to go in his own way. Due to his persistent refusal to ask for God’s grace, the hour for repentance had closed and gone by. Simply put, it was his pride that blinded him from his need for God to save him and his nation.

Many of us live with the same type of pride in our lives. Although we might talk about God as if we need Him, the way that we live our lives betray that sentiment. We have chosen to make our own way without His help. However, it is important to learn from the mistake of Pharaoh—that pride always leads to our own destruction. Even in our success we must learn to rely upon God through prayer and a heart posture of need. There is something so attractive about people who wear humility in their daily attire, acknowledging their weaknesses and constantly leaning upon the power of God. Let us be those types of people. Let us be people who see clearly because we have learned to seek God in our lives!

Prayer: Father, it is so easy to become prideful and self-sufficient, and to live life as if I don’t need You. Help me to recognize my weaknesses and my need for you. Teach me how to lean into Your power in my everyday life! Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Haggai 2


Lunch Break Study

Read 2 Corinthians 3:1-6: Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is Paul referring to as his letters of recommendation?
  2. What makes Paul sufficient to be effective in his ministry?
  3. In what tangible ways can you be more dependent on God?

Notes

  1. He is referring to the people in Corinth who have been affected by his ministry in positive ways. In this letter, people are questioning ministry of Paul. For this reason, he says that the validity of ministry is their own change.
  2. Paul says that transformation and the effectiveness of his ministry is not because of anything inherently in himself, but his sufficiency is in God!
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Reflect on what Pastor Tim Keller said: “…the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”

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