NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Jon Kim, a staff at Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan, who oversees its college group. A graduate of New York University (BS), he is currently pursuing a M.Div. degree at Reformed Theological Seminary.
Devotional Thought for Today
“The Faith That God Commends: It’s Not What You Think”
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
During this season of increasing awareness of our nation’s racism, God has led me to check my own racial bias. During this process, I have also been led to check my bias in other areas of life. What do I value in myself and in others that is not aligned with God’s values?
This morning’s passage is part of the famous “Hall of Faith” chapter. (I’d encourage you to read it in full when you get a chance.) When we read this chapter, we are inspired and convicted to live by faith. We are reminded of the great victories and deliverances that were experienced “by faith”. It was through faith that these men and women acted in accordance to the great promises of God. What an inspiration they are to the Church today!
However, we often stop short of verses 36b-38. In these verses we are reminded of the suffering and persecution experienced by other people of faith. Now, the author doesn’t give the names of these people, meaning they are not remembered or honored in the same way as the likes of David, Abraham, Noah and Sarah; they are seemingly forgotten. Nevertheless, verse 39 tells us that “these were all commended for their faith”—referring to unnamed saints whose stories of heroic faith we will never know in detail. But we know this much about their faith: They experienced victory and breakthrough as well as death and persecution.
Applying this finding to today’s world, these unknown and under-appreciated believers in Hebrews 11 are like the black brothers and sisters in the Lord whose heroic faith the history never recorded; that is to say, their voices were never heard. Regardless, all of these people are part of the “Hall of Faith”.
So, do you attribute hardships and suffering to a lack of faith? Sure, your suffering could be a consequence of your sin and poor decisions, but not always; your suffering could, in fact, be due to living by faith. Answer this question: Who are you drawn to “commend” for their faith? Do you commend only those who experience triumph and flourishing? Do you overlook those who are suffering for their faith? Perhaps we are conditioned by American Christianity to celebrate, as the heroes of faith, only those who lead megachurches and have written many books, or who have the most Tweetable quotes. Let us discern whether this is the kind of faith that God or the world commends. In the meantime, let us pursue that faith—though unrecognized and beset with suffering—which the Lord commends!
Prayer: Dear Lord, would You give me the grace to live a life of faith. In times of suffering may I remember the saints who have gone before me; those whom the world may not remember, but whose faith You have commended. If I am discouraged when my life looks unimpressive, remind me that my life is only to please You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 57
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Samuel 16:6-13: When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
Context: This is when The Lord commands Samuel to anoint a new king of Israel.
Questions to Consider
- Why did Samuel believe Eliab was the Lord’s anointed and why did the Lord say he was wrong?
- Why was David overlooked?
- Why did the Lord choose David? (See 1 Samuel 13:14.)
- In what ways do you wrongly judge yourself, others, or even the gospel message itself— similar to how Samuel misjudged?
- Samuel assumed Eliab was the Lord’s anointed because of his impressive appearance and stature. The Lord tells Samuel that what he cares about is the heart, not outward appearance.
- David was the youngest, and likely did not have a strong physical stature like the others did.
- David was a man after God’s own heart.
- Personal reflection
Considering this morning’s quiet time, when you experience “light affliction”, do you grumble, or do you joyfully trust God? Some trust and obey God and He grant spectacular results; others trust and obey the same mighty God and He allows them to endure horrific trials—but in His strength. The difference is not in the people or in their faith, but in God’s sovereign purpose in each situation.
We, who live in the New Testament era, know the same God whom these Old Testament saints knew. Actually, we know Him better because we know Christ personally, for Jesus said, “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well” (Jn. 14:7a). Therefore, and more so, we should trust God the Father as they did in the Old Testament. Pray to that end before going to sleep.
* Prepared by Pastor Bruce Yi, Lead Pastor of Remnant Westside Church