October 4, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“Daddy, again!”

Jeremiah 42:1-3

Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near 2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— 3 that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” 

Two of my son’s favorite words to say to me are “more” and “again.”  Like most toddlers, I’m sure, my son will eat something, read something, watch something, see me do something, and he’ll come back to me and say, “Daddy, more!” or “Daddy, again!”  It is pretty adorable, but I have a confession to make to all of you… I get pretty tired of it eventually. After reading the same book 20 times or after listening to Baby Shark for the 50th time in a row, I get really sick of it and I try to find a way to move on to something else.  As much as I love my son, I don’t want to hear “Daddy, again!” after a while.

In Jeremiah 42, all of the people of Israel come together, approach Jeremiah, and ask him to appeal to the Lord for mercy and direction.  If we look through the Old Testament, we’ll notice this pattern: The Israelites would grumble or complain to God, or neglect and turn away from God, but then they would face adversity; so they would go to God and appeal for mercy—and the process would repeat.  This was their version of “Daddy, again!” I know that I (and likely all of us) would’ve been tired of hearing it from the Israelites over and over again. We would’ve been tired of answering and forgiving, tired of showing mercy, and tired of having to do it all over again.  But God being so rich in mercy and having immeasurable patience with His people, listens and answers them—again and again.

When I think about God’s patience for me—and for all of us—I am so amazed at our Father’s heart.  No matter how many times we say to Him, “Daddy, again!” how many times we fail, how many times we neglect him, how many times we have to turn back to Him, our Father will never grow tired or weary of us.  Praise God for His enduring patience and love for us!

Prayer: God, we thank You for allowing us to come to You again and again.  You have shown us so much mercy and grace. Thank You for never giving up on us and being so good to us.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  1 Kings 8


Lunch Break Study

Read Timothy 1:15-17: The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the main statement that Paul is making about Jesus?
  2. How would you describe Paul’s attitude towards the grace that has been shown him?
  3. Think about your own sin.  How do you understand the patience that Jesus has shown you?

Notes

  1. Paul is pointing out that Jesus shows amazing grace and patience to him and to all who believe and trust in Him.  
  2. In calling himself the “foremost” of sinners, Paul’s attitude is one of humility and awe of the grace that Jesus has shown him.  I think Paul really understood the depth and darkness of his own sin, which led him to truly be thankful and awed by the perfect patience that Jesus had shown him.
  3. Personal reflection.

Evening Reflection

God’s repeated patience towards us is something that we should be amazed by all of the time.  No matter what happens in our lives, or how far we may fall, God wants to hear us call out to Him again and again.  Pray and reach out to your Father in heaven again, and thank Him for His patience and love for you.

October 3, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Lifeline”

Jeremiah 41:16-18

Then Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces with him took from Mizpah all the rest of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, after he had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam—soldiers, women, children, and eunuchs, whom Johanan brought back from Gibeon. 17 And they went and stayed at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt 18 because of the Chaldeans. For they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.

In the once popular game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, the contestants were challenged to answer fifteen trivia questions; and if successful, they would win one million dollars.  The questions would increase in difficulty as the game went on, so one of the gimmicks of the show was that each contestant would have three “lifelines” that they could use to help them if they faced a question they were unsure about. 

Throughout the history of Israel, every time they faced difficulty, one of the first “lifelines” that would immediately come to mind was to go back to Egypt.  When Israel was in the wilderness, heading to the Promised Land, they would talk about going to Egypt any time they faced difficulties or setbacks. And here again, in Jeremiah, as Israel was falling apart the people speak of going to Egypt—it was their first lifeline.  Egypt represented survival and security for Israel.

When it comes to facing difficulties or setbacks in your life, what is your lifeline? For some of us, it is a resolution to work harder or to turn to friends or family for help; while for others, it is to escape with media or videogames. Whatever they are, it is our means of coping and dealing with our struggles; but the lifeline that God offered Israel—and that He offers us—is His presence.  The primary reason that Israel was facing trouble in the first place was that she had neglected to turn to God as their lifeline. God wanted to give life and joy to His people in the Promised Land, but again and again they turned to other things or sought to escape to Egypt.

Let us not follow the example of the Israelites, but instead let us strive to seek God’s presence as our source of life!

Prayer: God, today I seek Your presence and the life that You offer me.  I pray that I will not turn to anyone else or anything else for joy but that I will turn to You first.  Fill me with Your presence. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  1 Kings 7


Lunch Break Study

Read Isaiah 55:1-3: 1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

Questions to Consider

  1. This passages talks about spending and laboring on “that which is not bread.”  What are some examples of this kind of “bread”? What is the result of laboring for this “bread”?  
  2. What is the good and rich food that God offers us?  What makes is so good?
  3. How have you experienced the “rich food” of God in your life?  Reflect on how God’s love has been good and satisfying in your life.

Notes

  1. Spending money and laboring for “that which is not bread” is essentially putting faith or trust in anything or anyone that is not God.  It leaves people thirsty, hungry, and weary, when they pursue or “eat” anything but what God offers.
  2. What God offers us is His covenantal love (v. 3)—and He offers it to us for free!  The appeal in this passage is to come, buy and eat “without money and without price” (v. 1).  Not only are we satisfied by this food, but it brings life to us.
  3. Personal reflection.

Evening Reflection

Tonight, think about how things of this earth have left you feeling thirsty and hungry; on the other hand, think upon the goodness of God in your life.  God freely and lavishly offers us His life-giving presence and love. Let us receive Him tonight.

October 2, Tuesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Sin’s Vicious Cycle”

Jeremiah 41:4-8

On the day after the murder of Gedaliah, before anyone knew of it,5 eighty men arrived from Shechem and Shiloh and Samaria, with their beards shaved and their clothes torn, and their bodies gashed, bringing grain offerings and incense to present at the temple of the Lord. 6 And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah came out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he came. As he met them, he said to them, “Come in to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam.” 7 When they came into the city, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the men with him slaughtered them and cast them into a cistern.

If there was any doubt about what kind of man Ishmael was, it becomes really clear in this passage that Ishmael was not a hero.   In yesterday’s passage, we saw that Ishmael murdered Gedaliah and massacred everyone else around him—including the Babylonian soldiers—   perhaps with a sense of heroism, but definitely he was in rebellion against God. Here, we see that Ishmael’s actions take him to a darker place as he murders these men who come to Jerusalem for no other purpose than to worship the Lord.

Ishmael probably had no intention of murdering more people when he had resolved to kill Gedaliah, but the path he was on determined his destination and his actions. The nature of sin and rebellion is like that: once we go down that path, it’s not easy to stop, repent and go in a different direction; rather, sin and rebellion begets more sin and rebellion.  There have been times in my life—and all of our lives, I’m sure—where everything started with just one white lie, that was followed by another lie to cover up the first one, then our sin went deeper and deeper, and its effect got wider and wider. Ishmael shows us a clear example of the vicious cycle of sin—something we all have experienced.

There may be times when it feels like we are stuck in a vicious cycle of sin with no way out—but thankfully, we have hope in Jesus Christ.  As Romans 5:6 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” At the right time, Jesus came into our lives to not just stop us from going deeper into sin, but to free us completely from the vicious cycle of sin.  Let us go to the Cross of Jesus by repenting and confessing of our sins so that we could receive this freedom. And let’s be thankful to Jesus for setting us free!

Prayer: Jesus, I pray for freedom from my sin. Thank You for coming into my life in the depth of my weakness and sin.  I pray that I can fully take hold of the freedom You have given me this day. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  1 Kings 6


Lunch Break Study

Read Galatians 5:16-23: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are the competing desires that are within us?  
  2. What does it mean to walk by the Spirit?
  3. How are you seeing the fruits of the Spirit in your life?  What steps can you take to bear more fruit?

Notes

  1. Paul tells us that the desires of the flesh and desires of the Spirit are in direct opposition with one another.  In verses 19-21, we see what the desires of the flesh look like and then in verses 22-23, we see where the desires of the Spirit lead us.
  2. Walking by the Spirit means taking every step, living each day by faith, and following the desires of the Holy Spirit within us.  Notice that the desires of the flesh by nature are centered on the self and when we are led by ourselves and thus by the flesh, it leads to all that we see in verses 19-21.  
  3. Personal reflection.

Evening Reflection

Do you feel stuck in a cycle of sin?  If so, remember that Jesus wants to set you free!  Confess and repent of your sins, and pray for a deeper experience of freedom in Him.  If not, spend some time thanking Jesus for the freedom and victory He has given you.

October 1, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from October 1-7 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who serves as the Fenway site pastor of Symphony Church in Boston.  Shan, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Jenny; and they are the proud parents of Tyler.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“Rebels”

Jeremiah 41:1-3 (We return to our study of Jeremiah to chapter 41.)

In the seventh month, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family, one of the chief officers of the king, came with ten men to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah. As they ate bread together there at Mizpah, 2 Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the ten men with him rose up and struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, with the sword, and killed him, whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor in the land. 3 Ishmael also struck down all the Judeans who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldean soldiers who happened to be there.

The rebel is glorified in our culture today. Maybe it’s because of America’s revolutionary history or because we’re so enamored with stories like Star Wars or Robin Hood, but someone who takes on established authority and radically fights or protests against the status quo is a hero in our day.  On the other hand, people who follow orders and do what they’re told to do seem to be boring and uninspiring. Our culture’s heroes are the rebels.

Perhaps this is how Ishmael thought of himself. In this passage, Ishmael takes on the established authority and murders Gedaliah—the governor of Israel appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon—and also massacres all the people and Babylonian soldiers who were with him.  Ishmael may have felt like a hero after this, since he was taking on the big, bad guys and wasn’t just accepting a life in subjugation to Babylon. But the reality, though, is that he wasn’t just rebelling against Babylon but he was in rebellion against God’s will, since God had told His people through Jeremiah that His will was that His people be subject to Babylon.  Ishmael’s rebellion leads to tragic consequences, not just because he rebelled against Babylon—but he rebelled against God.

There is still something to be said about being a rebel.  We’re not to just follow along with what the culture dictates.  Christians should at times go against the established authority and against the status quo, but instead of focusing on the excitement and glory of rebellion, the heart of a Christian is to follow Jesus, follow His will, and seek His glory—this is why we call ourselves “followers of Jesus.”  And even if we feel it to be boring or unfair, we, as we follow God’s will, are called “to be subject to every human institution” because “this is the will of God” (1 Peter 2:13-14).  This doesn’t mean we should never rebel or protest against established authority, but even when we feel the need to do so, the heart behind it should be that we are being subject to God’s will and authority.  

Let us submit ourselves to Jesus this day and be followers of Him!

Prayer: God, I pray for a heart of humility and submission to You and to Your will for me. Help me to not just respect and submit to the authorities You have placed over me but to pray and bless them.  Help me to follow You. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  1 Kings 5


Lunch Break Study

Read Matt. 22:15-22: Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Questions to Consider

  1. How were the Pharisees trying to “entangle” Jesus with their question?
  2. What was Jesus’ attitude towards Caesar and the Roman authority?
  3. What does it mean for us to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and give to God the things that are God’s?  

Notes

  1. If Jesus said that it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, then the Jewish people would feel like He was pro-Caesar/pro-Rome, but if He said, it was unlawful to pay taxes to Caesar, then Jesus could be accused of insurrection and rebellion against Rome.
  2. In saying, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” Jesus was displaying an attitude of submission to Rome.  Submitting to Caesar was not antithetical to submitting to God. Rather, by submitting to Caesar, Jesus was submitting to God’s authority through Caesar. Jesus was not concerned with competing with Caesar’s rule, because Jesus’ kingdom was not to be one of the political realm.
  3. As people submitting to the kingship of Jesus, we are called to submit to the human and political authorities.  We should pay our taxes, obey the laws, and also pray for and bless those with authority over us. Being subject to human authorities is part of our submission and obedience to God.

Evening Reflection

There are most certainly people in our lives whom we find it difficult to submit to.  The solution is not rebellion but submission to the authority of Jesus. Pray for a heart of humility and love towards all of the human authorities above you.

September 30, Sunday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Forgiven to Forgive”

Matthew 18:21-35

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.[h] 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,  and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Forgiveness is one of those topics easier talked about than actually done.  That’s why C.S. Lewis once said; “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.” In today’s passage, Jesus talks about the nature of forgiveness and that we should extend forgiveness to those who have hurt us.  

Peter starts by asking the question, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”  Peter thought he was being so generous, as it was taught by rabbis in those days that they should forgive up to three times.  So Peter doubles it and adds one for good measure. But Jesus responds in a typical fashion: “not seven times but seventy-seven times.”  His point: If you are counting, you are not really forgiving.

Jesus is showing us a new kind of forgiveness that should be radical in nature.  It’s a kind of forgiveness that takes away grudges and all kinds of record keeping of those who have offended us.  He then tells a parable of what forgiveness should look like: The king cancels a debt of a servant worth 10,000 talents; if you add up that amount, it would be about 200,000 years of accumulated debt.  This servant turns around and demands money from a fellow servant owing about 100 denariis, which is worth about three months wage. Just think about that comparison! It is absurd to think about the small amount of debt this servant is asking for when he had been forgiven of an unpayable debt. 

The point is this: our forgiveness of others has to start by recognizing how much our King – Jesus Christ – has forgiven us of our own sin and debt.  We could never repay Him with our good works or our own righteousness. It was our disobedience and rebellion that sent Him to the Cross so that He could freely forgive us.  If we do not recognize our own need for forgiveness, it makes forgiving others nearly impossible.

Is there anyone you need for forgive?  Jesus knows and understands the wrongs that have been done to us, but He asks us to choose to forgive, regardless of our emotions.  We need to understand that forgiveness starts with a choice, not with an emotion.

We need to experience the power of the gospel to forgive in this way.  I want to challenge us to take the courageous step of forgiving those who have hurt us—out of obedience to Him.  May He show you His grace to enable us to show that grace towards others.

Prayer:  Lord, give me the strength to forgive people in my life who have hurt me.  Help me to walk in obedience in taking the necessary steps to do that. I ask for Your guidance in this area of my life.  Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 4 (If you haven’t read chapter 3 yet, read it today 😊.)

September 29, Saturday

The AMI Quiet Time Devotionals for September 29 and 30 are provided by Pastor David Kwon, who is the Lead Pastor of Journey Community Church, Raleigh, North Carolina.  

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Priceless”

Matthew 13:44-46

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Recently, I read a story about a man named Michael Rorrer of Virginia who, while cleaning out his great aunt’s home following her death, unexpectedly found a chest full of old comic books—345 in total.  As he was going through them, he realized that many of these comic books were rare collectables such as the original comic with the first appearance of Superman and the first issue of Batman. Then it suddenly dawned on Rorrer that he had come upon a great wealth of treasure.  So, he immediately went to a local pawnshop where it was estimated that the entire collection was worth $3.5 million!

In today’s passage, Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven as a great treasure.  In the parable, we read about two men who found something very valuable, so much so that they were willing to give up all for it.  It is a great picture of what is it like when we gain Jesus in our lives. Friends, do you realize what a priceless treasure it is to gain the Kingdom of Heaven?  In Christ we find all that we truly need: eternal life and the purpose for which why we exist on this earth.

Furthermore, we need to see that joy was the motivation that led both to sell all that they had to buy the precious field and pearl, respectively; in fact, it was a pleasure to give it all up. The idea is what the treasure is compared to—it is compared to what they had. The conclusion: There is nothing in my possession that is worth more than Jesus; he is to be treasured.

So, don’t treat Jesus as if he is just another important person in your life. He is not just another source for your life to get richer and happier; he is not just an add-on. Jesus is “the life” (Jn. 11:25)! He is everything to us!  Notice that both men in these parables had to leave literally everything else to possess this treasure. That is the requirement to live the kingdom life: No conditions. No refusals. No half-hearted commitment. Would that be how we would describe our relationships to Jesus?  If not, what is getting in the way of following Christ with all that we have?

So then, take some time today to treasure him.  Spend time treasuring him in the Word and worship.  CS Lewis in his book “The Weight of Glory” put is like this: “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Prayer:  Lord, may we treasure Christ with all that we are.  I pray that we would be willing to let go of everything else to gain more of him.  Amen!  

Bible Reading for Today:  1 Kings 2-3

September 28, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Pride and Its Destruction”

Jeremiah 50:1-16

This is the word the Lord spoke through Jeremiah the prophet concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians: 2 “Announce and proclaim among the nations, lift up a banner and proclaim it; keep nothing back, but say, ‘Babylon will be captured; Bel will be put to shame, Marduk filled with terror. Her images will be put to shame and her idols filled with terror.’ 3 A nation from the north will attack her and lay waste her land. No one will live in it; both people and animals will flee away. 4 “In those days, at that time,” declares the Lord, “the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God. 5 They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten. 6 “My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place. 7 Whoever found them devoured them; their enemies said, ‘We are not guilty, for they sinned against the Lord, their verdant pasture, the Lord, the hope of their ancestors.’8 “Flee out of Babylon; leave the land of the Babylonians, and be like the goats that lead the flock. 9 For I will stir up and bring against Babylon an alliance of great nations from the land of the north. They will take up their positions against her, and from the north she will be captured. Their arrows will be like skilled warriors who do not return empty-handed. 10 So Babylonia will be plundered; all who plunder her will have their fill,” declares the Lord. 11 “Because you rejoice and are glad, you who pillage my inheritance, because you frolic like a heifer threshing grain and neigh like stallions,12  your mother will be greatly ashamed; she who gave you birth will be disgraced. She will be the least of the nations—a wilderness, a dry land, a desert. 13 Because of the Lord’s anger she will not be inhabited but will be completely desolate. All who pass Babylon will be appalled; they will scoff because of all her wounds. 14 “Take up your positions around Babylon, all you who draw the bow. Shoot at her! Spare no arrows, for she has sinned against the Lord. 15 Shout against her on every side! She surrenders, her towers fall, her walls are torn down. Since this is the vengeance of the Lord, take vengeance on her; do to her as she has done to others. 16 Cut off from Babylon the sower, and the reaper with his sickle at harvest. Because of the sword of the oppressor let everyone return to their own people, let everyone flee to their own land.

The problem with pride is that it makes us blind to its existence. I experienced this when I moved to New York City four years ago for a new job. Beforehand, I had been working for 2 years and was actively involved in ministry. Thus, I thought I had the “faithful Christian” lifestyle down pat. However, it didn’t take long before trials in corporate culture, church dysfunction and relational conflicts made me realize that I had, and still have, a long way to go.

At its root, pride contains the belief that we can live our lives apart from God, the giver of life. An egregious example was the Tower of Babel, as “they said ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city . . . so that we may make a name for ourselves’” (Gen. 11:4). This spirit of autonomy was also present in Babylon, a civilization that worshipped gods like Bel and Marduk (Jer. 50:2) while taking pride in their accomplishments such as the Hanging Gardens and Hammurabi’s law codes. Thus, God declared that Babylon would be plundered and that “all who plunder her will have their fill” (Jer. 50:10).

In the New Testament, Babylon continues to serve as a symbol of pride, specifically in Revelation 17-18. Depicted as an adulterous woman, Babylon is denounced by God, along with the kings of the earth who committed “adultery with her” and the merchants who “grew rich from her excessive luxuries” (Rev. 18:4). Thus, God pronounced the destruction of Babylon by declaring that He will “give back to her as she has given” (Rev.18:6), just as He declared to ancient Babylon that He would “do to her as she has done to others” (Jer. 50:15).

Ultimately, there are many ways in which the lie of pride can creep into our lives. As many of us do not live paycheck to paycheck (thank the Lord), perhaps we unconsciously trust our wealth to provide the comfort or status we seek. For others, it might be our accomplishments in work or ministry-related successes. Whatever our struggles may be, let us humble ourselves before the Lord to recover the sense of our absolute dependence on God almighty.   

Prayer: Father, it is so easy to embrace the thoughts of this world and believe that I make and control my own destiny. Help me remember that this is simply not the case, that every breath I take is only because of Your mercy and grace. Help me to internalize the simple truth that apart from You, there can be no fruit in my life. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 1


Lunch Break Study

Read Proverbs 16:18-20: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. 19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. 20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

Questions to Consider

  1. Verse 18 is probably one of the most well-known verses in the Bible. Why do you think this may be true?
  2. What alternative to pride does this chapter of Proverbs provide?
  3. In light of verse 20, who are the people in your life from whom you could heed instruction? Are you willing to listen to them?

Note

  1. God created the world for us to be His image bearers and to reflect His goodness. Pride is the antithesis of that and claims that we can live our lives apart from God.  Thus, it’s not a surprise that anything against God’s purposes will eventually fail.
  2. Verse 19 declares that it is better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed (i.e. the poor). Generally speaking, humble people can be found among the poor or oppressed since they  often feel helpless when they are subjected to discrimination and contempt.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Jesus declared in his most famous sermon that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3). Ultimately, this brokenness can’t be manufactured by us but is prompted by God, especially when we are undergoing difficult situations. Let’s ask for that brokenness, which acknowledges the simple truth that we cannot live our lives for God without Him.