July 16, Tuesday

Devotional Thought for Today

“Good to Bad”

Jeremiah 41:9

On the day after the murder of Gedaliah, before anyone knew of it,5 eighty men arrived from Shechem and Shiloh and Samaria, with their beards shaved and their clothes torn, and their bodies gashed, bringing grain offerings and incense to present at the temple of the Lord. 6 And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah came out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he came. As he met them, he said to them, “Come in to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam.” 7 When they came into the city, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the men with him slaughtered them and cast them into a cistern. 8 But there were ten men among them who said to Ishmael, “Do not put us to death, for we have stores of wheat, barley, oil, and honey hidden in the fields.” So he refrained and did not put them to death with their companions.  9 Now the cistern into which Ishmael had thrown all the bodies of the men whom he had struck down along with Gedaliah was the large cistern that King Asa had made for defense against Baasha king of Israel; Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with the slain.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld made the joke that landing a man on the moon—you do believe it happened, right?— may have been the worst thing that happened to humanity.  Now we have a point of comparison for our failures, as in, “I can’t believe they can put a man on the moon, but they can’t figure out a way to make a prescription bottle top that’s easy to open.”  Seinfeld ends the bit by joking that Neil Armstrong should have said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for every whining, complaining [person] out there.”  

Human beings have this way of turning good things into something to complain about or worse, something very terrible, don’t they?  Take today’s passage, in verse 9—the writer of Jeremiah points out that Ishmael used the cistern that King Asa had dug, presumably to supply water for Jerusalem during a potential siege on Jerusalem some 300 years earlier (see 1 Kings 15), as a mass graveyard for some 70 men he mercilessly slaughtered.  This cistern, which was supposed to be a source of life, became a reminder of death.

Now, I trust that most of our reading audience aren’t mass murderers, so here’s the question for you: What are the good things in your life that you have turned bad?  Perhaps that job which was supposed to provide for the needs of your family and help build the Kingdom of God became the sole means by which you measure success. Or those kids who you’re supposed to groom into the image of Christ became your only reason for living.  Even hobbies which can relieve stress and give pleasure can become a means to escape life. You get the point—don’t turn the good things in your life into mush. Give it a serious thought to what I shared today. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for all the things that I have: family, friends, education, job, etc.  Help me keep these things in proper perspective, knowing all I have is Yours. If there is anything that I have turned into an idol, please bring it to light and help me to love You most.  

Bible Reading for Today:  1 Kings 19


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 19:16-30: And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.  23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are some good things that the rich young man was able to do?
  2. What were the disciples able to do that this young man could not?
  3. What are the things that hold you like the rich young man?  Can you release them like the disciples?

Notes

  1. According to the rich young man, he was moral and even “loved his neighbor as himself.”  I’ll take him at his word, meaning he probably gave alms. So, in a sense, he was willing to follow God to a certain extent.
  2. However, when Jesus tells him to sell everything he possessed, he was unable to do it.  The disciples, in contrast, gave up everything to follow Jesus. I think this is how most Christians are:  we’ll follow Christ to a certain point, but beyond that, it’s too much.  
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Did you have an opportunity to be critical and truthful?  Were you discouraging in your words or tone, or did you do your best to encourage?  Did you honor God with praise and blessing today? It’s still not too late. Consider Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Without using the word, today’s theme was idolatry.  In other words, what are the good things God has blessed us with that we have made bad by loving them too much?  Take a few minutes and recommit everything that you have jobs, family, homes, etc. back to the Lord.

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