REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 24, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“A Great Misunderstanding about God’s Intention”
“But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.”
My kids used to love listening to “Adventures in Odyssey,” a family-friendly radio drama. In one episode, the coach of a girl’s softball team is sued by the father of his star pitcher over unfair treatment. The father thinks that the coach, an old political rival in local politics, did that as a payback. During a court proceeding, the coach freely admitted his “double standard.” Yet, it was not to get even with the player’s father but to help her get better because she had told the coach her desire to be good enough to earn a softball scholarship. So the coach pushed her, but not others, to do more repetitions, refine her mechanics, and eliminate mistakes. In short, the coach got sued because neither the player nor her father understood what he was trying to do.
Some of us imagine that God is ready to punish the unbelieving world that throws out a fist at Him in defiance. He may certainly do that in due time, but the subjects of God’s fire in Malachi are the Levites, the priestly tribe, with whom God had established “a covenant of life and peace” (Mal. 2:5); they were God’s messengers (2:7). For some time, however, they “have not followed [His] ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law” (2:9). Even so, instead of abandoning them, God came with fire and soap to refine and purify them, so that they could once again be acceptable and useful for His purpose.
God’s punishment always “begins with the family of God” (1 Pet. 4:17), but its intent is not punitive—a great misunderstanding—but restorative. And like the young pitcher’s misgivings about her coach, we wonder about God’s love when facing a major trial through which we’re disciplined. The Hebrews writer, thus, notes, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).
Perhaps, faced with several upsetting situations lately, you have wondered why or who is at fault. But many things in our lives are neither completely your fault nor someone else’s. A better response is to ask, “Lord, why are you allowing these things to pass? Are you refining and purifying me? What lessons should I learn?” Reflect. Pray.
Prayer: God, as I start this day, I appreciate You for giving me another opportunity to experience and enjoy life. I admit, however, that in my pursuit of doing the things that I want, I forget you constantly and for too long. I need a good jolt to remember what You desire of me. So Lord, give me understanding and insight into whatever You are allowing to pass in my life so that I can learn, grow, and change. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 6
Lunch Break Study
The prophet Habakkuk was sick to his stomach seeing the Israelites willfully sinning and yet not being punished; he felt worse as God told the prophet of his plan.
Read Habakkuk 1:1, 3: “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? . . . . 3Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.” 1:5-6 (God’s plan): “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. 6 I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own.” 1:13 (Habakkuk’s response): “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”
Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you (Israel), and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Jeremiah 4:2: “If you (Israel) put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, 2 and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ then the nations will be blessed by him, and in they will glory.”
Questions to Consider
- How was Prophet Habakkuk shocked twice by what God was and/or was not doing?
- What can you learn about God who was willing to use the Babylonians to punish His people Israel?
- What was God’s ultimate purpose behind his punishment of Israel (Gn. 12:2-3; Jer. 4:1-2)?
- First, the prophet was dismayed that the holy God of Israel would let evil prevail among His people without the due course of justice; second, he was even more shocked that God would use a people more wicked than the Israelites to punish them.
- No one should put limits on what God will or won’t do. Throughout the Scripture, we see many surprises: a donkey who rebukes the foolish prophet Balaam; a prostitute (Rahab) who is enshrined into the Hall of Faith (Heb. 11); a terrorist who is transformed into the greatest evangelist (Paul). Implication: God may speak into your life through an unlikely person or source.
- Israel was chosen to be the instrument by which God’s blessings (i.e., the knowledge of knowing God by faith) were to reach the nations, but that wasn’t happening because Israel allowed herself to be co-opted by the idols of the nations. So the intent of the punishment was for Israel to repent, thereby restoring the purpose for her existence: being God’s channel of blessings to the nations.
In looking back to what happened today, was there any situation that you feel God was using to speak to you about some aspect of your life? Take a moment to reflect. Jot it down. Pray over it.