REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, was first posted on May 26, 2013. He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“The Cry of Every Heart”
Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV)
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
The Psalmist wrote these words in a time of great turmoil and personal pain. Many scholars believe that this psalm was written during the time of the exile. Since the temple had been destroyed, worshiping the LORD there was no longer possible. Where can I go and meet with God? We can sense the Psalmist’s anguish and despair. And we are confronted by this question: do I love God this much? Do I love him even when he seems distant? Will I desire him even when it seems that he has forgotten me?
The more I read these words, the more I am challenged and humbled by them. As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. Do I desire God this much? Am I desperate for his presence?
In comparison to the impassioned cry of the Psalmist, sometimes I feel nothing. Surely the answer is self-evident. But then, to my surprise, when I search deep within, the answer is….yes! I do desire the presence of God in my life. I would not want to live life without it. There is nothing greater. You see, this is the cry of every heart, whether we recognize that cry or not. We were created for a relationship with God. We may try to deny this but that won’t stop our hearts from crying out for him.
And even more wondrous…our God wants this even more than we do. His desire is that we would love him not with part of our hearts, but with all of our hearts . . . just as he loves us.
Jesus told us, “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7). Let us go before God and ask for his presence today. It may be difficult to pray with passion first thing in the morning, but it’s okay. It’s not about how much feeling we put into our prayer, but allowing our hearts to express their need for God.
Prayer: Father, I need Your presence with me today. I want to be where You are. Open my eyes so that I might see where You are working around me. Heal my heart so that it is no longer torn in different directions. May I love You with all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my strength, and all of my mind! In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 7
Lunch Break Study
Read Revelation 3:14-20 (NIV): “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Questions to Consider
- Read verse 15. What are some possible interpretations of being cold and hot?
- In what ways, had the church in Laodicea become lukewarm (verse 17)?
- How does Jesus counsel the Laodicean church to escape the fate of being spit out of his mouth?
- There are three common biblical interpretations of neither cold nor hot:
- They are figures of speech meaning “hate me/against me” (cold) or “love me/for me” (hot)
- In Old Testament wisdom literature, hot and cold related to a person’s self-control. To be hot-tempered was considered negatively (Proverbs 15:18) while coolness was a positive (Proverbs 17:27 – see the NASB for a literal translation.
- Archaeologists have given us an interesting insight into this verse. The water supply of Laodicea apparently came via an aqueduct from hot water springs five miles north. By the time the water arrived it was lukewarm. In contrast to the medicinal qualities of hot springs, or the refreshing quality of cold drinking water, lukewarm water is neither good for bathing nor drinking. To be neither cold nor hot but instead lukewarm, means to be ineffective in one’s purpose.
Of these three explanations, the last is the most convincing to me. It is unclear how “hating Jesus” would be preferable to being lukewarm (explanation 1), or why Jesus would want hot temperedness (explanation 2). In the language of the Gospel of John, Jesus desires for us to be fruitful.
- The Laodicean Christians had lost their sense of dependence upon God. Instead of recognizing that they were “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked”, they thought that they were “rich”, “wealthy” and did not need a thing. Jesus’s description of the Laodicean church seems best understood figuratively. The Laodicean church thought it was spiritually rich and lacked nothing. Spiritual pride and self-satisfaction seem to be the major cause of lukewarm-ness.
- Jesus counsels the church to turn to him to be restored. Only Jesus can clothe the naked, open the eyes of the blind and give gold refined in the fire. How does this happen? In verse 19-20, Jesus gives the wonderful picture of him standing at the door and knocking. God desires to be with us! We have only to open our hearts to let him in!
What would Jesus say to our churches? What would Jesus say to us? Are we hot or cold for Jesus, or are we lukewarm? Have we made our hearts and lives available to Jesus for his usage, or have we become complacent? The good news is that Jesus doesn’t ask us to do this alone. Indeed, the definition of being lukewarm here is to live without Jesus. Jesus is waiting for us to open our doors to him. Let him enter!
Tonight, let us confess the wayward way in which that our hearts have grown complacent and lukewarm. Ask Jesus to change the way you sometimes see yourself, that is, feeling “rich” apart from Jesus. Let us journal all the ways that we can see our need for him.