REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 3, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“When Things Go from Bad to Worse”
“The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. 2 ‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’”
The truth is, when things go from bad to worse, the mature people as well as the immature wonder, “If God really loves me, how could he stay aloof?” But while the immature may complain aloud for the whole world to hear, the mature would say it when no one is around, or if they are married, only to their spouse. As a young pastor, I remember wondering aloud, while standing alone by the church’s porch, whether God was still with me after another discouraging service that was poorly attended.
Here, when the Israelites were told how God loves them, they retorted, “How have you loved us?” Some parents know how stinging that comment can be, having been told that by their children. Of course, kids are known to question their parents’ love whenever they aren’t allowed to do this or eat that, while forgetting all that they have received. Frustrated parents typically resort to reminding them of all the things they have done for them, which leaves a sour taste in their mouth.
Sadly, we do the same to God by focusing on what we don’t have rather than what we have received from Him. We should be better than that since we have known the Lord for a long time, right? Maybe not. After all, these Israelites should have known better since they were the only people in the world to whom God personally spoke through the prophets for 1,400 years. There wasn’t going to be any more revelation from God after Malachi’s passing, yet they still acted like pouting children who demand proof of their parents’ love for them. And that sums up what humans—mature or immature—are truly like: wholly ungrateful fuelled by selective memories.
Ultimately, God, unlike the annoyed parents who rattle off their good deeds to justify themselves before the ungrateful children, will simply point to the Cross wherein is expressed His greatest love for us. It is there that all our complaint, pouting, and grumbling come to a stop because we see clearly that none deserves such love. Should this day turn out to be really bad, it can never be that bad because of the Cross. As you start this day, isn’t it great that you already have a good day in Christ. So, share that good news with someone.
Prayer: Lord, I know I complain whenever things do not go my way; sometimes, I even blame you. I suppose you won’t believe me if I vow that I will never do that again, right? But God, it’s never about my resolution but your persistent love for me that will change me little by little. Thank you. How I praise you and enjoy your amazing grace. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 29
Lunch Break Study
Read Malachi 1:2b-4: “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’” 5
Obadiah 1:11-2: “ On the day that [Edomites] stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them. 12 But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; do not boast in the day of distress.”
Rom. 9:10b-3: . . . when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Questions to Consider
- How does God respond to the pouting Israelites? (Remember, since they lived long before the appearance of Christ, God couldn’t simply point to the Cross as alluded in the morning.)
- What was so “wicked” about the sin of Edomites committed against their brother-tribe Israel?
- What is one practical lesson we can learn from what made God indignant against Edom (1 Thess. 5:15; Prov. 24:17-8)?
- God reminds the Israelites (from Jacob) that they had been chosen over the Edomites (from Esau), not because they deserved it but simply because God, in His grace, elected to do so. He also reminds them how the Edomites were punished because of their sin against Israel.
- When Israel was being attacked by her enemies, Edom refused to help out; in fact, they gloated over what was happening to their close kin; they even joined in. (“You were like one of them.”)
- We should “not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him” (Prov. 24:17-8). Rather, “make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else” (1 Thess. 5:15), even those whom we dislike or who are our competitions.
A day goes by so fast, with so many things happening, including things that make us lose our peace, often leading to complaining. What happened today? Regardless, end it with a prayer of thanksgiving.