REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 15, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“You Owe Me One” “Only If You Want To”
“Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.”
Here, the apostle Paul is about to ask Philemon to do something that perhaps the latter may not want to do. At this point, what is being asked is not as important as recognizing that this happens almost every day in our lives. Are you a parent? How do you get your preteen to do something she doesn’t feel like doing? Are you a pastor? How do you get your congregant to commit to a responsibility that he or she doesn’t like?
How would experts advise you? As a parent, it may be wise to avoid saying to your kid, “Do this for me since I did nice things for you and your friends last week.” As a pastor, I may counsel you to avoid saying to your congregant, “If you don’t do this, God won’t bless you.” I will address the merits of these approaches tomorrow, but for now, let’s see how God does it.
Well, we already know that God won’t force anything on us, for He gives us free will. Nevertheless, to steer us toward the right direction, the Lord does remind us of what He did on our behalf in the past. For instance, since the Israelites “forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt” (Ps. 106:21), they were told to “remember the wonders he has done, his miracles” (Ps. 105:5a). Moreover, God wants us to know that “all these blessings will come up on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God” (Deut. 28:2). After that, God will appeal to us on the basis of His love, expressed ultimately in Christ, to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Jos. 24:15).
So, what is that one thing that the Lord is asking you to do which you find difficult to carry out? Is it a matter of forgiving someone or being generous toward a godly cause? Whatever it may be, remember God’s goodness as well as the terms of His blessing; then obey out of your love for Him.
Prayer: “Dear Lord, I exalt you and lift your name on high this morning. I thank you for not making us like a robot that has no free will. Help me to use prudently this precious gift to choose you and your ways. When I do not use it for your glory, gently remind me of your goodness and to obey you out of love.” Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Acts 11
Lunch Break Study
Read Jeremiah 35:12-6: Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: 13 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. 14 ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me. 15 Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you.’ They said, ‘Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your ancestors. But you have not paid attention or listened to me. 16 The descendants of Jehonadab son of Rekab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.‘ ”
Questions to Consider
When I first realized what God is doing here, I felt both sad and had a new appreciation for God.
- In what sense is this narrative sad?
- In what sense does this narrative cause us to appreciate God?
- If you were a prophet whom God sent to turn the Israelites [described as “the fewest of all peoples” (Deut. 7:7)] from their sinful ways, how would you have appealed to them on the basis of love?
- It is sad in the sense that the God of the universe cannot get the kind of respect from His people (for whom so much was done by Him) that the forefathers of the Recabites, mere humans, received from their descendants on account of nothing more than simply being told.
- God could have wiped them out at any moment, but He continued to reason with the Israelites (Is. 1:18: “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD”) so that they could be placed in a position (obedience) to be blessed by Him.
- I would say: “Israelites, despite the fact that you were not so significant and not so righteous (Deut. 9:6), God in His grace chose you to be His people. So, show some gratitude by turning from your rebellious ways and return to God.”
Did anything occur today that reminded you of God’s love? Did you face a choice that could have expressed your love and loyalty to God? How did you fare? Review your day here.