REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 13, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Such Magnanimous and Unmerited Grace”
Malachi 2:4-6 (ESV)
“So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. 5 My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.”
Bill McCartney was the coach of the University of Colorado football team that won the national championship in 1990. That same year, he founded the Promise Keepers, a national men’s ministry focusing on building strong marriages and families through biblical values. But, ironically, his family was in shambles much of the time while he was coaching: his only daughter gave birth to two out-of-wedlock babies and his wife drifted into depression as her husband was constantly on the road.
Levi, the third son of Jacob, was like McCartney in the sense that nothing he did in life suggested that God was going to make a covenant with him full of great promises. While the covenant with Levi was one of life and peace, he, along with his brother Simeon, were men of neither peace nor life. Once, they killed all the men in Shechem in revenge because one of them had violated their sister (Gn. 34:25). Still haunted by this event that had occurred several decades ago, their father, in his deathbed, said, “Simeon and Levi . . . their swords are weapons of violence. . . . Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! . . . I will . . . disperse them in Israel” (Gn. 49:7).
So, why does God choose people like McCartney and Levi to proclaim a message that they themselves didn’t live out? In short, such magnanimous and unmerited grace bestowed on the undeserved and unworthy gives us hope—that we are never counted out by God. His specialty is choosing unlikely people, and then changing them so that they are fit for his work. In speaking of Old Testament judges like Gideon, Barak, and Samson whom God used, the Hebrews writer wrote, “Whose weakness was turned to strength and . . . became powerful in battle” (Heb. 11:34). Realizing the irony of how God was using him, McCartney admitted, “It’s absurd that I’m the one. I’ve made so many mistakes.” But God changed him and he can change you as well.
Are you feeling the blues these days because of what’s going on at work or family? Turn to God, now. Have hope! This, too, will pass but stay close to the Lord; walk with him in peace and uprightness.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, I recognize you as my Lord and King. You are such an awesome and mighty God who can take those who are weak and turn them into mighty women and men of God. In our desperate attempts to change ourselves, we look for all the experts before we look to you. How foolish and dishonoring! Lord, I turn to you this morning to change me; my heart and my character. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 17
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Cor. 1:27-9 (ESV): “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
James 1:2-4: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Jer. 9:23-4: Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
Questions to Consider
- What gives hope to people who desperately need it? Explain it in terms of 1 Cor. 1:27-9.
- While there is more than one way to change us, the trials in life are probably the most effective way. How do trials help us to change and grow as a person and a believer?
- We read that God chooses the foolish and the weak to shame the wise and strong, respectively. Now, let’s assume that you are the wise and strong in the sense that you have more knowledge and your position is higher than others. Does that mean God cannot use you? If he does, what kind of a heart do you need to embody?
- Not only do people need to know that God can change lives, they also need to see real examples of unlikely people whom God used after changing them (or keep on changing them). 1 Cor. 1:27-9 spells out clearly God’s preference so that no man can boast of what he has done. This isn’t about God’s ego trip but to make sure that people place their hope in the One who can actually help them.
- Trials make us feel helpless, weak, and not in control. They can either break us or make us if we turn to God. If we tend to be prideful about ourselves, then trials can humble us; if we tend to rely on ourselves, then trials can help us to depend God; if we are control-freaks, then trials can remind us that not many things are under our control.
- When Paul says “weak” or “foolish,” it can refer to literally weak or foolish people (e.g., not so educated), or someone who, despite being wise and strong, has a tender heart toward God. Such a person will not boast in his wisdom, might or riches; he will, instead, want the world to know how great and awesome God is.
What is an area in your life that needs a change? Did something happen today that reminded you of this? Turn to God this evening and ask him to really change you.