Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on March 31, 2016, is written by Pastor Son who serves as a missionary-pastor in Taipei, Taiwan. David, a graduate of UC Berkeley and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace and they have three small children.
March 19, Thursday
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Memory and Identity”
So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: “Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will. ’ Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.
Memory is profoundly tied to our identity. I am who I am today, primarily because I have memories of past experiences that have molded and shaped me to become the person I am today. For example, in third grade, when I drew a picture of a house, my teacher saw my drawing and exclaimed, “Wow, you could become an architect!” Indeed, I went on to receive a degree in architecture. That memory, in many ways, changed the trajectory of my life and shaped who I would become.
In a similar way, in junior high, I went to my first school dance. It was the most awkward moment of my life, standing in the dimly lit gymnasium, while my schoolmates were moving their bodies in exciting ways. My face went red, and I snuck my way out of the room, and joined some other students in the library who were playing board games (PTL). Today, I have an irrational fear of any sort of dancing, thanks to this memory. My point is that our memories shape who we are today!
Paul, in his sermon to the Jews, is appealing to their memory. He is reminding them of who they are: God’s people. As he recounts the story of how God saved and sustained them, Paul explains how it all points to Jesus. What are the key memories in your life? Do these memories point to Christ? If not, let’s spend some time today revisiting key memories in our lives, and asking God to speak into them.
Prayer: God, thank You that even when I am not aware, You are working. I want to be shaped and molded according to Your will. Please help me to remember my identity today, as Your beloved child. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 42
Lunch Break Study
Read Deuteronomy 8:11-20: Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. ’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.
Questions to Consider
- According to the passage, what is likely to happen if the Israelites don’t remember the Lord?
- What does remembering look like in action?
- How should God’s people view suffering/prosperity?
- This passage was spoken to the Israelites right before they entered the Promised Land. There, they would live in houses, eat well, and prosper. But if they didn’t remember the Lord, and all that He has done for them, they would end up giving themselves the credit. Furthermore, they would turn to worship other gods, and they would perish!
- True remembering seems to be tied closely with obedience. It is not enough for the Israelites to merely know their history; remembering is for the sake of obedience to their Lord and Savior.
- In this passage, experiences of suffering and experiences of prosperity are all attributed to God’s faithfulness. In suffering, He was humbling His people, “to do them good in the end.” In abundance, it was God who gave them the power to gain wealth because of His faithfulness to His promises.
Take a moment tonight and reflect on how God rescued you. It is not enough to just know our own stories. When we intentionally relive it, and remind ourselves of what God has done in our lives, our memories can continually transform us.