REPOST Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 6, 2015; it has been updated. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Our Illegitimate Desires”
1 Samuel 12:17-25 (ESV)
Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.” 18 So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. 19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” 20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”
In the course of life, it is important to realize that not every request that we make before God is actually legitimate or even good for us. As a father of two children, I have had to deny many unwise and unhealthy requests, ranging from eating candy for breakfast to using all of their savings for video games. Obviously, as a parent I have a clearer understanding of the long term effects of present decisions, so while they are young, my responsibility is to help my kids make good choices in life. However, there will be a time when I will have to let them loose, allowing them to make their own decisions as well as live with the consequences. It frightens me to some degree, but this is a natural part of growing up.
In relation to our illegitimate desires, God can go one of two ways: He can either choose not to answer the request and save us from a painful mistake, or He can answer the request and let us deal with the consequences, with the hopes that we learn from the eventual fall out. Either way, God wishes the best for his children, and His goodness certainly cannot be questioned in whatever decision we make.
The miracle described in this passage is a frightening reminder that we must live with the consequences of our daily choices. In this particular scenario, the Lord waits until the day of the wheat harvest to bring a storm with thunder and lightning. Not only is this a case of unseasonal weather, it would have destroyed the wheat and significantly reduced the harvest. In their desire to have an earthly king, the Israelites lost sight of what they would lose. They failed to recognize that the society and their own lives would eventually suffer under the reign of human rulers. However, in the midst of this sign of judgment, Samuel offers them the assurance that God will never forsake them. As believers, this is our confidence as well. Though we sin and face the consequences of our actions, the Lord will continue to love us and promises to never leave us.
Prayer: Lord, help us to remember that Your ways are higher than our ways, and that You know ultimately what is best. Place a heart of trust within us so that we can live a life of obedience, even when things don’t make sense. Also, give us wisdom and discernment so that we would know what to ask of You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 9
Lunch Break Study
Read James 1:5-8 (NIV): If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Questions to Consider
- Why is praying for wisdom so important to the Christian life?
- What does it mean to ask for wisdom in faith?
- How are wisdom, faith, and prayer connected?
- Every Christian will go through difficult times, and only the wisdom of God will provide the divine vision and perspective to help us through. More than silver and gold, the person who desires wisdom will flourish and grow during the trials of life.
- It is important to discern wisdom that comes from man versus the wisdom of God. Secular wisdom can be helpful in certain situations, but only the wisdom that comes from God, which is a gift, is able to help us deal with spiritual matters.
- There is a close connection between faith, prayer, and wisdom. The person who asks for the wisdom of God has to have faith. Wisdom, then allows that person to persevere and grow in their faith. Therefore, both wisdom and faith grow together feeding into one another. Growth in wisdom is to understand that everything of faith is from God. Prayer is the means by which we exercise our faith by asking for this divine wisdom over and against other worldly things that we may desire.
When is the last time you asked for the wisdom of God in faith? What were some wise decisions that you have recently made? What were some foolish choices in the recent past and the consequences of those decisions? Reflect on the story of Solomon who asked for wisdom and a discerning mind instead of riches and fame from 1 Kings 3.