July 17, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Okay, Now What?”  

Jeremiah 41:10

Then Ishmael took captive all the rest of the people who were in Mizpah, the king’s daughters and all the people who were left at Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. Ishmael the son of Nethaniah took them captive and set out to cross over to the Ammonites.

I’m doing my best not to be one of those helicopter parents (parents who hover over their kids ready to jump in at the first sign of trouble), so I do my best to give them a lot of room to get into some amount of trouble.  Lately, they’ve been really into climbing trees, and my town boast that we are a “borough of trees.” So when we go out to the park, my kids will try to conquer as many trees as they can. I’m proud to say that they’ve generally gotten pretty good; I have a nice little family of monkeys.  However, occasionally one of these little monkeys will climb a little too high or get to a branch that they can’t climb out of (up is sometimes easier than down). So they’ll get up there, and think to themselves, “Now what? I’m up here, but how do I get down?” In things like climbing and hiking, it’s important that we plan both the route in and out, this way we aren’t at the top of the summit thinking, “Now what?”  

In a lot of ways this is how I think Ishmael feels at this point in the biblical narrative.  On Monday, we read that he killed the appointed governor of Jerusalem, Gedaliah, and yesterday, we read how he slaughtered about 70 men who were presumably coming to mourn the downfall of Jerusalem.  By this point, he’s made enemies of both the remnant in Israel and the Babylonians. Now, since he has no place to hide, got prisoners to haul around, and no friends and countrymen to take him in, he decides to flee to the land of Ammon.  This may seem like an insignificant detail, but no self-respecting OT Jew was going to run to Ammonites for help. Talk about a guy running around like a chicken with his head cut off!  

Maybe in your life, you feel like you’re just scrambling too?  Perhaps you’re running from job to job, or place to place, or event to event because you didn’t quite think things out fully.  And when you’ve reached your next destination, you too are wondering, “Now what?” Perhaps the problem is not so much the lack of a plan, but lack of proper priorities.  You see, priorities are important because they keep us on track toward a noble goal, and if we don’t schedule life according to our priorities, we get off track and feel like we’ve been tossed back and forth by life and the circumstances we created for ourselves.  So, a wise thing for us to do just about now is to review our life’s priorities and recalibrate them from the standpoint of eternity.    

Prayer: Lord, what are the things that are most important now?  How would You like me to prioritize my life, so I don’t live like in FOMO mode.  I want to follow You and Your leadings, not whatever looks great at the moment.  

Bible Reading for Today:  1 Kings 20


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 6:25-33: Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does the Lord want us to plan or prioritize our lives?
  2. Based on this passage, how can you tell the difference between carefree/careless living and genuinely trusting in God?
  3. Are you a planner?  Is this a good thing for you or are you constantly anxious?

Notes

  1. Verse 33 is the key—we need to seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness.  So planning and prioritizing doesn’t make sense unless God is our first priority.  
  2. This passage does not say that we shouldn’t plan or work hard, but rather it speaks to those who fear that God won’t take care of them.  So planning is generally a good thing, but we realize that we’ve trusted in our own abilities more than God when worry and anxiety creep into our lives.  
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

What are the plans you have for you life?  Are they God’s desire for you? On the other end of the spectrum, do you even have a plan for anything in your life?  Does your life line up with your priorities or are you kind of just running around aimlessly?

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