The AMI QT Devotionals from July 1-4 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Your Choice Matters”
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Many years ago, I rebuked a young Reformed seminarian who discouraged one of my congregants from praying persistently because, according to his theology, her praying was tantamount to trying to “bend the arm of God” (his wording). He kept insisting that we don’t need to pray like that because God is sovereign; I kept telling the seminarian that this congregant was no different than the persistent widow who never stopped pleading (Lk. 18:1-8).
I have no doubt that those who mindlessly champion the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, will not like the point I am about to make but Psalm 1:1-3 gives me no choice: God, precisely in His sovereignty, has given human the free will to choose Him and His ways. Here, we see that the Psalmist chooses to delight in God’s law instead of heeding the counsel of the wicked. Joshua would’ve concurred, for he told the Israelites shortly before passing away: “Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Jos. 24:15b).
And the LORD will honor our choices; that is to say, if some choose to reject Christ and his offer of salvation, God will not treat their decision as if they had chosen to believe Christ. Seeing from this standpoint, universalism, which postulates that everyone will go to heaven regardless whether one believes Christ or not (e.g., “the Gospel of Inclusion”), is an insult to humanity (“your decisions are inconsequential”) and an affront to God’s attribute of love (which accords humans the freedom to rebel). Actually, there is no greater privilege than God treating us in this manner: it not only shows His love for humanity, but the undeserved dignity bestowed upon us as well.
And to choose God and His ways every day, without the intake of His word along with the enabling power of the Spirit (in prayer), we are bound to make poor choices, or as the Psalmist says, “walk in the counsel of the wicked.” Why? For one thing, we are inundated with so many alluring temptations. Thus, disciplining ourselves to have meaningful time with God on a daily basis (“day and night”) is not an option but a spiritual necessity.
There is no better time to start on this than the first day of a new month! As we start July of 2019, reflect on the kindness of our God, who does not want “anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Offer a prayer of commitment to keep your time with God.
Prayer: God, bless and keep me today so that I can make better decisions throughout this week. Strengthen me to overcome my fear of man so that I can make the kind of choices that would honor Your Son Jesus.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 2
Note: Oops. Yesterday’s Bible reading should have been 1 King 1, not 2 Samuel 25.
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 7:13: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Before reflecting on this verse, let’s find out what Jesus had in mind (that is, teachings that led people astray) when he said this. Among the several religious sects at that time vying for people’s attention, two stood prominently: Sadducees and Pharisees.
Questions to Consider
- How would you describe the teachings of the Sadducees (Mt. 22:23, Acts 23:8)? Why would such teaching lead to the “wide gate”?
- How would you describe the teachings of the Pharisees? Why would such teaching lead to the “wide gate” (Mt. 23:13; Mk. 7:5-13)?
- What would be some wide gate teachings of today that affect how we think about God and salvation?
- The Sadducees correctly upheld that the written law of the OT alone was binding; however, their interpretation rejected the spiritual world as well as miracles such as the resurrection. They were like the liberal theologians of today whose rejection of the essential Christian doctrines has emasculated the gospel.
- As for the Pharisees, despite adding many oral traditions to Judaism, making them equal to the Scriptures, they upheld the spiritual world. But it didn’t matter as these extra teachings kept people from entering the kingdom of heaven.
- Universalism (“Everyone is already saved”) or religious pluralism (“All religions lead to the same God”). A quick response can be gleaned from Acts 4:12, Jn. 14:6 & 1 Jn 5:12.
Matthew 7:13 can easily be applied to our everyday living. For instance, entering through the narrow gate implies making a choice that would honor and please God even if it does not tangibly benefit us, at least at the outset. Are you facing a situation where you need to make a decision but aren’t sure what to do? Are you weighing the short- and long-term benefits? If you were to make this decision based solely on this passage, what would that be? It comes down to this: Do we trust God? Christ assures in this way: “Trust in God; trust also in me” (Jn. 14:1). Write your thoughts: