UPDATED Today’s AMI Devotional Quiet Time, provided by Christine Li, was first posted on May 28, 2015. Christine, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, serves as a deaconess at Remnant Church in Manhattan, New York.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Disobedience is Costly”
2 Samuel 20: 4-10
Then the king said to Amasa, “Call the men of Judah together to me within three days, and be here yourself.” 5 So Amasa went to summon Judah, but he delayed beyond the set time that had been appointed him. 6 And David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom. Take your lord’s servants and pursue him, lest he get himself to fortified cities and escape from us.” 7 And there went out after him Joab’s men and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men. They went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. 8 When they were at the great stone that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing a soldier’s garment, and over it was a belt with a sword in its sheath fastened on his thigh, and as he went forward it fell out. 9 And Joab said to Amasa, “Is it well with you, my brother?” And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab’s hand. So Joab struck him with it in the stomach and spilled his entrails to the ground without striking a second blow, and he died. Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri.
Matthew 25: 24-30
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26 But his master answered him, “You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Prior to this passage, King David has asked Amasa to become the commander of his army, replacing Joab. Shortly afterwards, King David asks his newly-minted general to stir up Judah within three days in response to a new rebellion. However, the allotted time passes, and Amasa has failed to bring the people as requested. From what we know of King David, he was not an unreasonable man, but while it is difficult to know why Amasa could not fulfill the king’s expectations, ex-commander Joab seems to find this failure reprehensible and takes matters into this own hands with Amasa. It didn’t help that Joab was likely brooding over having been demoted on account of Amasa. Here, he sends a clear message, perhaps under a pretext: disobedience is costly.
This reminds me of a well-known passage, the parable of the talents. The master, before going away, entrusts his wealth with a number of servants. While some of them put the investment to work, one servant hides the money in a field, doing absolutely nothing in response. When the master returns, he is angered by the squandered opportunity, takes away the investment he entrusted, and throws out the servant! The message is echoed here: disobedience is costly.
Few of us have responsibilities on seemingly grand scales, but our relationship with God is a serious matter. Living in accordance with God’s standards is extremely difficult; although we can pretend that some of our sins are less egregious, Jesus warned us that even sinning in our thoughts is as answerable as committing the crimes (Matthew 5:12, 28). Living in accordance with God’s standards seems near impossible.
However, what drives us to obedience should not be a fear of costly consequences. Because of the cross, our prior offenses are covered over by God’s grace, and the costly penalties of our disobedience have already been paid (which, of course, doesn’t mean that God won’t discipline His children [Heb. 12:5-11]). Now, our motivation has been transformed out of fear into a great love for God and a desire to be made like Him.
For this reason, let us be devoted to His Word, learning to understand what pleases God and urging one another to seriously live as new creations. Thankfully, we are not left alone in this journey; we have a community of believers to point us to Him, and the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit equips us with the power to live as God calls us to.
Prayer: Father, without Your help, I cannot remain obedient to You. However, although it can seem tempting to live apart from Your standards, I know that fullness of life comes from an obedient life. Help me to abide in You so that I may produce good fruit in keeping with this faith and so that I can spur others on to you. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Acts 23
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Corinthians 15: 12-28: Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
Questions to Consider
1. Why would Paul’s preaching and faith be in vain if Christ has not been raised, and why should people be pitied if Christ has not been raised?
2. What’s another danger of being incorrect about Christ’s resurrection?
3. Because we know that Christ has risen, how should this truth affect our lives? Are you banking all you have on His resurrection?
1. Believers ought to live in this world in a way that would be pitied if Christianity were not real. The end goal is not to have created “nicer people” for this world – the end goal is to have set all of our hopes and bets on an unseen world that we have not taken hold of yet.
2. If Paul and the other believers were wrong about Christ’s resurrection from the dead, then they are guilty of blasphemy when it comes to the nature of God and for teaching others about Him falsely.
3. Christ’s resurrection gives us joy – we are no longer in sin, and death is destroyed. Because we no longer have to be in bondage to sin, we can live freely and give up all things for Him.
As you look back to this day, did you face any decisions that were clearly between pleasing and obeying God or man? How did you fare? We are told to count the cost before walking with Christ? What is that you need to give up in order to obey God more readily? Ask the Lord for more wisdom and conviction?