REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Shan Gian who is the Fenway Site pastor at Symphony Church in Boston, was originally posted on September 30, 2014. Shan is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments”
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Sometimes I wonder why people come to pastors for advice. They will come to us, pouring out their hearts for hours with their problems such as: relationships, ministry, family, understanding God’s will, etc. They are desperately seeking some words of wisdom and insight; some piece of advice that will answer all of their problems. So what do we end up telling people at the end of the meeting? It’s typically one of these answers: “You need to pray”; “You need to be patient and wait upon the Lord”; “You need to read the Bible”; or “Repent!” Thus, some people seeking golden nuggets of knowledge from us leave disappointed by such simple and unsatisfactory words of advice.
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon goes on for twelve chapters considering what the meaning of life is, exploring the purpose of work, pleasure, wisdom, riches, etc. With all of its philosophical discourse and questions, maybe you would expect an equally complex answer. But in the end, Solomon gives the simplest of conclusions: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Many of us would have responded to him, “That’s it!? I knew that already!”
But it is that simple. In the end, that’s it: Fear God and keep his commandments.
We too often complicate the Christian life. Some of us feel like we have to have every mystery and theological question figured out, or we want to know exactly what God’s will is for our life. Or maybe some of us are legalistic, like the Pharisees who made following God so complicated by creating rules upon rules. Jesus himself simplified everything for us when he said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40).
Ultimately, fearing and loving our God are words to describe how we are to be in relationship with our God: We fear him because he is holy, and we love him because he is good. And because of his holiness and his goodness, we obey his commandments. Everything in Ecclesiastes, all of the Law and the Prophets, and, ultimately, the whole Bible points to a relationship with our God in heaven and living in obedience to him. We will continue have our questions and the desire to understand the deep things of God. And we should seek to gain wisdom and insight in these things, but let us do so with the understanding that, in the end, it’s all about being in a relationship with him and being obedient to his commands.
Prayer: Father, I pray that I would abide in You today. Help me to fear You as I see and experience Your holiness and glory, but also that I would love You as I know of Your grace and love for me. I thank You, Lord, for these simple truths that You are my God and You are worthy. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ecclesiastes 6
Lunch Bible Study
Read Micah 6:6-8: With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Questions to Consider
- According to Micah, what works do not please the Lord? What should that mean to us?
- What do we often do with our good works before God (Lk. 18:9-14)?
- What does the Lord require of you? How can you follow those “requirements” today?
- Burnt offerings, sacrifices of rams and olive, and even offering up his firstborn child do not please the Lord. What do these represent? Doing good works without a merciful and humble heart.
- Even as Christians, we often have an attitude like the Pharisees where we feel like our own righteousness and works will earn God’s acceptance and approval. No, God accepts us in Christ apart from anything we have done. Good words are important because they are an indicative of a genuine faith (James 2:14-26), but they themselves do not add anything to God’s approval of us.
- Micah tells us that God simply wants us to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly before God. If we think about these commandments, they are all relational. Walking humbly before our God is being in a relationship with him. Likewise, acting justly and loving mercy can be equated to loving our neighbors and treating them with fairness and love. This day, as we reflect on these words, think about how your relationship with God and with others can be filled with love and humility.
Reflect on your relationship with God today. Did you spend time with him and were you in obedience to his will today? Most likely, all of us have failed in one way or another, but come before God with athankful heart for the grace and forgiveness shown to us in Jesus Christ. Spend some time in prayer, thanking him for his amazing grace in your life.