Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Point of Reference”
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Woe to Nebo, for it is laid waste! Kiriathaim is put to shame, it is taken; the fortress is put to shame and broken down; 2 the renown of Moab is no more.
In Heshbon they planned disaster against her: ‘Come, let us cut her off from being a nation!’ You also, O Madmen, shall be brought to silence; the sword shall pursue you. 3 “A voice! A cry from Horonaim,
‘Desolation and great destruction!’ 4 Moab is destroyed; her little ones have made a cry. 5 For at the ascent of Luhith they go up weeping; for at the descent of Horonaim they have heard the distressed cry of destruction.
One of the privileges of planting an AMI church in Asia is receiving one-year interns. We love our interns! But an inevitable rite of passage when you move half-way around the world is—getting lost. Our interns get lost all the time. One of our first interns got on a bus and ended up in another city—now, that’s lost! So it’s not unusual to find our interns holding their mobile devices to eye level and literally do a pirouette, trying to find their bearings using Google Maps. In a sense, they’re doing what travellers have done all throughout the ages, which is to use a compass to orient themselves to true north (or magnetic north if you want to be picky). Instead of relying on intuition or chance, we look to a more consistent and constant measure. We need this in life as well, which is why the most important voice you need to hear today is—the voice of the Lord your God. And not because He always flatters or pampers—He doesn’t—but we need His voice because He cannot but bring the light of His truth to bear on our hearts. In a world that deals in shade of grey, God’s voice is our True North.
In today’s text, we move from Israel’s Western neighbors, the Philistines, to their neighbors to the East, the Moabites. God gives them a warning that judgment would come upon them as well as the Philistines. There used to be a time when you would cry, “Woe is me!” if you were discouraged or overwhelmed. It’s a cry of self-pity because we usually think we deserve more or deserve better. And if we veer towards feelings of worthlessness, it’s still ME at the center. It’s not an easy cycle to break, and our perspective is often skewed, which is all the more reason why we need a surer reference point to gauge our life’s trajectory. God says to Moab, “Woe to you”—these are words of warning because the Moabites rejoiced in their own “renown.” They took great pleasure in the recognition of others but cared very little for God’s opinion of them. They valued what is fleeting and temporary over what is true and unchanging—to their tragic demise.
Let’s build our lives on the firm foundation of God’s truth rather than the opinion of man or the spin of a short-term deal. One will secure your life, the other will get you lost.
Prayer: Speak, O Lord. I want to hear. Help me to trust in Your wise leadership today rather than live out of neediness or insecurity. Guide me, Holy Spirit, to live a life that honors You! Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Peter 4
Lunch Break Study
Read Psalm 46: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Questions to Consider
- What characteristics about God are emphasized when the psalm writer uses the images of refuge, help, and fortress?
- Notice that the context of the psalm writer’s confidence takes place in calamity and trouble. What kinds of trouble does the text hint at?
- What lessons can we learn from the psalm writer about dealing with life’s troubles?
- All of these images represent practical aid by means of God’s strength. In verse 1, God is described as a “refuge,” and the idea is associated with the word “strength.” Both a refuge and a fortress offer protection from harm and give confidence to those sheltering within. The psalm writer goes a step further by personalizing God’s help – He is “OUR refuge and strength” and His help is described as “present” rather than distant.
- In vv.2-3, the psalm writer lists the sounds of natural disaster to describe the trouble circumstances stir in our hearts. We become anxious and worried, moved by a myriad of voices in our lives (the culture’s dream, the ideal look or figure, a demanding boss, a critical parent, deadlines or goals screaming out to us, etc). In addition, vv.6 and 9 mentions social and political unrest—yet more fuel for our worry or reasons for us to withdraw.
- We can deal with our trouble by: (a) remembering the strength and concern of God; (b) listening for his powerful voice (v.6); and (c) learning to turn down the noise of our world so we might hear the voice of God (Be still).
Since we live in such a fast-paced world, let’s take a moment to be still. Turn off your phone; put your device to sleep; turn down the noise; and focus all of your attention on the reality that God is with you. He always is—we’re just not always aware of His presence. Try to be silent and reject every other thought. It’s not that it’s unimportant; rather, God is more important. Express to Him your need, and praise Him for He is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”