UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, prepared by then-staff of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, was first posted on July 15, 2013; it has been updated.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“The First Thing”
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. 2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.
There are many ways to respond to stress or sadness. What has been our strategies while we have been cooped up at our homes under the ordinance of shelter in place. We might watch TV, go shopping (online), or play video games in an attempt to distract ourselves with noise. Some may drink or sleep as much as possible to avoid thinking altogether. We could replay events and worries, assigning blame to others (e.g., politicians, an entire country or organization, etc.) and even to God. We may even talk with others about our problems.
But oftentimes, God is the last person we seek out. Ignoring our problems and talking to no one is not the solution, but neither is talking incessantly to ourselves or even to others. When Israel sought out Egypt for help, God said of the latter, “That unprofitable nation . . . Egypt, whose help is utterly useless. Therefore I call her . . . the Do-Nothing” (Is. 30:6b-7). No, the first thing we do is seeking God, to speak to and hear from Him in His Word and through the Holy Spirit who resides in the hearts of all believers (2 Cor. 1:22).
And that’s what we see here, as the psalmist, amid his distress, chooses to cry to God for help. His prayer is not calm and collected, but he cries out loudly to God in anguish in order that He might hear him. He prays day and night. The psalmist stretches out his hands toward God without ceasing, refusing to be comforted until God Himself answers his cries.
As we encounter stress and other challenges during this season of COVID-19, let us be quick to pray even before mustering up our own strength or devising our own answers. Pray that God would make us supernaturally aware of His presence and power throughout the day.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, life in this fallen world is hard, all the more so now than ever before. Forgive me that even after having known You for so long, I am still so foolish as to believe that I can solve the challenges that I face. May I not rely on my wisdom or strength today. May I not despair in the face of my helplessness to solve all the issues around me. Rather, help me to look to You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 10
Lunch Break Study
Read James 2:18-26 (NIV): But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that —and shudder. 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
Questions to Consider
- What are the two types of faith that James contrasts in this section?
- What three characters does James use to make his point that faith without deeds is dead?
- Is there an area in your life that God is leading you to put your faith into visible action?
- James contrasts a faith without any deeds versus a faith that is proven by good deeds. James was a splendid reader of people. He knew that some would respond to his teaching by suggesting that it was just a matter of emphasis. A Christian over here specializes in faith, and one over there specializes in works. But both are true Christians! James will have none of it! He maintains that it is impossible to show faith without works, but it is possible to show faith through works.
- James first uses the devil to illustrate his point, noting that even the demons believe in God! They know the truth about God, and the truth they know makes them “tremble” or “shudder.” But is their belief a saving belief? Of course not! And neither is our belief in God, if it consists of nothing more than nodding in agreement with various propositions and statements about God. James also illustrates with Abraham and Rahab that both put their faith into action, to reiterate that faith without action is dead.
- For instance, consider ways you can really be helpful to those who have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you begin another week, what “distractions” or “noise” can you put aside this week so that you can better hear His voice?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to obey your Word as it speaks to me in my circumstances. Empower my will so I can turn off my devices, so I won’t be distracted so much. Amen.