REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 10, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“About Our Offering”
“But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’ 13 And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty. “When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.”
By 1996, the church I was pastoring had been annually increasing my salary while my wife was quite busy working as an interpreter. With no rent to pay since we lived at a small guest house, we still had some money left after paying for the final year of my doctoral study.
One Friday night, while I was leading the Experiencing God group in a time of prayer, I felt the Lord telling me, “Don’t hoard your money.” Quickly, I saw a figure in my mind that was slightly less than my monthly remuneration. While I wasn’t thrilled about making this special offering, I took it by faith that that’s what I had to do. I went home to tell my wife what happened and she agreed that we should obey. Afterwards, when I began looking for my checkbook, my wife wondered why I had to write out the check right then and there. I responded, “If I don’t, then, by tomorrow I will change my mind and the check will lose one zero. And if I wait until Sunday, it will lose another zero.”
God’s grievance against these Israelites, who, out of economic interest, offered Him defective animals, had a subplot: Initially, they vowed to sacrifice “an acceptable male in their flock” to the Lord, but changed their mind and substituted it with a blemished animal. That was adding insult to injury. Why? Evidently, they saw a costly gift to God as burdensome, yet at the same time, they didn’t want to alienate God completely, for He may come in handy when trouble lurks. So they threw Him a bone. Perhaps, not knowing God at all is better than knowing Him in an askew manner, and then treat the Lord like an unwelcomed guest in our home.
So, what has God been saying to you for the past few days? Is there something you need to do for the Lord? First, “estimate the cost to see if [you] have enough . . . to complete it” (Lk. 15:28). But aim for something that will require your faith to be stretched. Then do it; don’t change your mind.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that you are the creator of this universe who sovereignly rules all things with love and justice. Only a fool would treat you with contempt and I have been that fool one too many times. Forgive me. Strengthen my faith and resolve to truly honor you in all that I do. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 19
Lunch Break Study
Read Acts 5:3-5: “Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.’ 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.”
Matt. 21:28-31: [Jesus said] “There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did what his father wanted? ‘The first,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.’”
Questions to Consider
- What was the sin of Ananias? What prompted him to commit that fatal miscue?
- What is the main point of what the two sons did in the parable?
- So when is “changing of the mind” a good thing? What is the main point of the parable itself?
1. Ananias obviously was a committed believer who initially desired to give the total proceeds of the sale of his property to the church. But he changed his mind after seeing, perhaps, the hard cash he was now holding. Instead of admitting the change of the mind, he tried to have it both ways; to pull that off, he lied to God by pretending that what he offered was the entirety of what he got for his land.
2. Saying, “I will do something for the Lord,” must be followed by an active obedience. Nice sounding words should never take the place of a corresponding action.
3. Obviously, changing our mind from “I won’t serve the Lord” to “I will serve the Lord” is a good thing. Jesus used this parable to point out that the repentant tax collectors and prostitutes, who initially didn’t heed God’s will in their lives, will enter the kingdom of God ahead of the Pharisees, who, after having started out right, were ending very badly.
As you look back to this day in view of the devotional theme of this morning, how did you fare? Were you in a situation in which you were going to talk about the Lord but changed your mind? Were you going to be generous, but decided not to for some reason? Pray about what happened; pray for courage.