October 26, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Jeremiah 48:6-13

Flee! Save yourselves!  You will be like a juniper in the desert! 7 For, because you trusted in your works and your treasures, you also shall be taken; and Chemosh shall go into exile with his priests and his officials. 8 The destroyer shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape; the valley shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the Lord has spoken. 9 “Give wings to Moab, for she would fly away; her cities shall become a desolation, with no inhabitant in them. 10 “Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord with slackness, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed.

I used to live in the Ring of Fire, which sounds kind of cool but actually is terrifying.  It refers to a horseshoe shaped area in which 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes occur.  So, every couple of years, there would be a major earthquake somewhere nearby.  On several occasions, I participated in disaster relief in affected places.  I remember my first time when I had only been in the new country for half a year and barely spoke the language.  But still, I wanted to help so I tagged along with a group that was bringing supplies to local neighborhoods.  We had a basic training module but the main thing I remember was being told, “Just ask people whom you meet, ‘What happened here?’ and let them share.”  That was it.  It wasn’t complicated.  It was incredibly human.  And even though my language was limited, people wanted to talk. And for many, the disaster served as a wakeup call to realize how their life’s priorities had been misplaced.

Similarly, one of the greatest horrors of God’s judgment is realizing too late the consequence of our misplaced priorities.  In today’s text, God speaks to the Moabites, Israel’s neighbors, and rebukes them for trusting “in your works and your treasures.” The ultimate Authority was exposing their wrong allegiance to achievement and things rather than to God. And the Moabites paid a dear price for their misplaced priorities.

Our culture is no different, for we like to talk about the “self-made man or woman.”  The term describes someone who has earned what he or she has through hard work and determination.  Actually, the Bible celebrates such diligence (Prov. 6:6-8), but not to the point of self-satisfaction and self-sufficiency—not to the point where we think we don’t need God.  In fact, all of Scripture testifies that you cannot be happy apart from God.  The Moabites relished their sustainable industries and isolation from much of the conflicts of the region.  They were satisfied but sadly, also separated from knowing the true God.  Neither wealth nor achievement; strength nor security can give you what God, your Creator, can. Remember Psalm 20:7 that says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Prayer: Lord, show me today the price tags I place on the things of my life: my achievements, my dreams, my stuff, my personality and my relationships.  Help me to receive them as good gifts from You, but teach me to keep You as the center and treasure of my heart!

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Peter 5


Lunch Break Study 

Read Ephesians 2:13-22: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Paul describes the kind of life that those who trust Jesus can enjoy.  It is the opposite of judgment—the opposite of hostility.  Notice how many times the word “peace” is used.  The effect of peace is more than a dividing wall coming down—it also brings us a new identity and access and confidence.

Questions to Consider          

  1. List the ways in which Jesus made peace between us and God.
  2. Sometimes we struggle because we don’t feel like new men and women. We feel the same.  We even struggle with the same sins.  How does our citizenship in God’s kingdom and membership in God’s family address this insecurity?
  3. How does the Holy Spirit minister peace to us?

Notes  

  1. This peace that Jesus gives us is not earned; rather, it is received—“You have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Thus, the way to attain peace is by trusting in Jesus because “He himself is our peace.”  Notice: He brings us near (v.13); He breaks down what separates us from God (v.14); He makes us new people (v.15); He dies so that there is NO condemnation for believers (v.16); He takes the initiative to speak peace to us (v.17); He gives us access to the Father (v.18); He gives us a new identity (v.19); He is Himself our solid foundation for faith (v.20); He unites believers into God’s family (v.21); He gives us the Holy Spirit to build us up (v.22).  This is a complete and decisive victory that Jesus won for us.  Receive it!
  2. These two identities remind us that just because you don’t “feel” different does not mean that you are still the same. When you are part of the family, you belong regardless of your failures.  In the Roman world, adoption was absolutely permanent and once adopted, you could not then be disowned.  Now, it is true that when people change their citizenship, they remain the same in some regards (same ethnicity, family, preferences), but there are also telling differences, such as having new opportunities, enjoying benefits and exercising the rights offered by the new country. So it is with saints who still continue to struggle with sin: you might feel the same, but you are not!
  3. Verse 18 tells us that the Spirit enables us to access God’s presence. This doesn’t mean God is not with us.  He is, but we may be unaware of it.  The Spirit manifests God’s presence to us so that we might enjoy the benefits of Christ’s victory.  Verse 22 says the same but in a corporate context.  The Spirit unites and builds up believers so we might know that God is in our midst.

Evening Reflection

One of the ways we express priority and value to God is worship.  How was your worship today?  It doesn’t just mean singing songs.  We worship when our hearts are devoted to God and our unseen intentions are to please Him.  Take a moment to worship the Father for His patient love; the Son for making a way for you; and the Spirit who pulls us into the place of transformation.

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