October 13, Saturday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional is special in that the writer, whose name is Napa, is one of the native leaders of the church the Lord has allowed AMI to plant in East Asia. Praise God!

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Forgetting His Promises”

Genesis 15:1-21

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your
very great reward.” 2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. 7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” 8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” 9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to walk across a glass bridge. While it was an amazing experience, it is not for the faint of heart. The bridge was suspended several hundred feet above a rushing river, and all I could feel were my legs shaking. Although the glass is made of a material that can sustain the weight of thousands of people, I still feared that the bridge would break.

In this passage, the Lord appears to Abram (Abraham) in a vision to encourage him. However, Abram’s response to the Lord’s encouragement was a question regarding his heir. While the Lord has tremendously blessed Abram in previous chapters, Abram was still longing for a child. Yet, the Lord does not deny Abraham, but promises an heir to him. In addition, the Lord reveals to Abraham that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars.

Many of us are like Abram. We’ve experienced the blessing of God, and we know that He is faithful. Yet, we are still worried about the uncertainties in our lives such as: the future, our financial situation, or our health. Even with our knowledge of God, there is a part of us that doubts the promise that God will provide for us.

However, what we learn from this passage is that God is merciful and does not get tired of reminding us of His promises. While we easily forget of His faithfulness, God is there to remind us that He is our provider. When we are having a difficult time, or when we find it hard to trust in Him, let us be encouraged to ask the Lord to remind us of His promises once again.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for Your daily grace. I pray that You would open our eyes, so that we can clearly see how faithful You are. In difficult times, help us to trust that You are in control. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 18-19

October 12, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Make some Adjustments”

Jeremiah 44:11-14

“Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah. 12 I will take away the remnant of Judah who were determined to go to Egypt to settle there. They will all perish in Egypt; they will fall by the sword or die from famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by sword or famine. They will become a curse and an object of horror, a curse and an object of reproach. 13 I will punish those who live in Egypt with the sword, famine and plague, as I punished Jerusalem. 14 None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah, to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives.”

Dieting is difficult since it requires many adjustments to our lifestyles such as: needing to workout, regulating how much food we eat, and even getting the right amount of sleep. While it may sound straightforward, these adjustments are difficult to make, especially when we are too tired, or facing a choice between kale or pizza. But, without making these adjustments, we will never achieve our goal of shedding those unwanted pounds.

In today’s passage, the Jews in Egypt find themselves facing a similar but much more consequential situation. The LORD tells them to “adjust” (read, change) their hearts and return to Judah so that they would not suffer His judgement. Jeremiah warns that God will punish them with the sword, famine, and the plague. So severe is the punishment that not one remnant of Judah will be able to return to Judah with the exception of a few fugitives.

While the sword, famine, and the plague are disastrous, one more punishment that stands out to me is found in verse 12. Jeremiah says, “They will become a curse and an object of horror.” In what sense is this a severe punishment? If you remember in Genesis 12:2-3, God says to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” As evidenced here, God’s purpose for having chosen the Israelites is so that other nations may come to know Him through them.  However, because the Jews in Egypt disobeyed the Lord, refusing to adjust their attitudes and follow the Lord, they were about to be removed from fulfilling this purpose. Instead of becoming a blessing to other nations, their disobedience caused them to become a curse and an object of reproach to other nations.

Like the Jews in Egypt, our disobedience can also sidetrack us from fulfilling God’s purpose. To keep this from happening, we must adjust (change) our thoughts and actions to obey Him. Henry Blackaby, author of Experiencing God, says, “When God speaks to you to reveal what He is about to do, that revelation is your invitation to adjust your life to Him. Your faith will be most clearly demonstrated by your actions.” These adjustments can be painful and challenging, but necessary. Remember, when we refuse to adjust, it hinders us from being in God’s purpose.

While this is not easy (much harder than passing up chocolate pie), let us learn how to adjust our thoughts, attitudes, and actions to be in God’s purposes.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that You have a purpose for me on this earth. If there is anything in my life that hinders me from fulfilling this purpose, give me strength to make the necessary adjustments. I know that it will be uncomfortable, but it is necessary for spiritual growth. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 17


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 19:1-10: Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Why were people surprised that Jesus wanted to eat at Zacchaeus’ house?
  2. What adjustment did Zacchaeus make? What was the result of the adjustment?
  3. Based on this, how would define repentance?

Notes

  1. The people were surprised because Zacchaeus was a tax collector. In those days, tax collectors were deemed as greedy turncoats who allied themselves with the hated Romans. So, since they were considered “unclean”, a good Jew would not enter their home. Because Jesus was a rabbi, for him to willingly enter a tax-collector’s home was a shock to many.
  2. When Jesus told Zacchaeus his willingness to go to his house, this sinner adjusted his attitude by way of repentance. Thus, he promised to give half of his possessions to the poor, and return four times the amount to those he cheated. As a result, salvation had come into the heart of Zacchaeus (through this faith in Christ).
  3. Repentance is more than changing one’s opinion about Christ (as some teach); it is having the intent and desire to turn from sin. It may or may not happen right away, but through the sanctification process (of the Spirit and word), we ought to and will change.

Evening Reflection

Based on this morning’s devotion, what are some adjustments you feel that God is calling you to make? What are some things that are hindering you from making those adjustments? Take some time to ask the Lord to help you overcome these hindrances.

October 11, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Idols of Our Hearts”

Jeremiah 44:15-18

Then all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, along with all the women who were present—a large assembly—and all the people living in Lower and Upper Egypt, said to Jeremiah, 16 “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord! 17 We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. 18 But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.”

This past year, a sister from our church has been facing persecution from her family. Every Sunday morning is a battle for her to come to church—most of the time she is able to come, but other times she has to stay home. But praise God, her faith is still strong! Recently, her family bought a large golden Buddha statue and placed it at the front door. Uncomfortable with this act, the sister asked her parents why they did that, and the parents replied that this statue will provide good fortune, luck, happiness, and prosperity to the family. Many people in East Asia still have idols set up in their homes, not only for religious reasons, but they believe that it will  bring some form of luck into their homes.

In this passage, Jeremiah had just finished warning the Jews residing in Egypt that God is displeased with them—not only for residing in Egypt, but for worshipping Egypt’s gods. Their response reveals their rebellious heart towards God. First, Jeremiah writes that the men “knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods.” Knowing full well that God detests idol worship, the men still allowed their wives to perform rituals before the Queen of Heaven. This is outright rebellion towards God. Second, the men and women respond: “We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our ancestors….” There is no sense of shame, guilt, or remorse for their actions.

But their rebellion is not without reason. The men and women explain that when their ancestors worshipped the Queen of Heaven in Jerusalem, there was plenty of food, wealth, and no war. However, after the idols were removed, there was pain and suffering.

Like the Jews in Egypt, we may have idols in our lives. Though we are not enticed by idol altars in our local Chinese restaurant or the idol sitting in our History Museum, our idols come in different forms, such as social media, traveling (wanderlust), work, or even relationships. While they may look vastly different from idols in the Ancient Near East, these idols falsely advertise the same thing; fulfillment, satisfaction, and peace. Just as the Jews residing in Egypt believed the Queen of Heaven provided for them, we view our idols in the same way.

We may find satisfaction in finding the perfect job, traveling to beautiful places, or joining different causes—all of these are blessings, but they can become idols. We begin to live for these blessings, rather than living for the Creator who gives us these blessings.

As God’s children, we were created for the purpose of worship. Through this relationship with God, we are truly satisfied and fulfilled. We need to be careful to not let other affections—even good affections—get in the way of that relationship.

Let’s ask the Lord to give us the strength to remove and purge those things that get in the way of our worship to the Lord!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for providing so many blessings in my life. However, I know I can treat these blessings as idols in my heart. Help me to love You with all of my heart, soul, and mind. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 16


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 17:11-19: Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[b] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Why were the ten men shouting from a distance?
  2. What was significant about Jesus telling the 10 lepers to show themselves to the priest?
  3. What was Jesus’ response to the Samaritan returning to thank Him?

Notes

  1. Because they were lepers, and according to the Law of Moses, lepers were considered unclean and could not approach anyone.
  2. Instead of laying hands on them, He tells them to show themselves to the priest. This reveals His authority, but also reveals the faith of the lepers. While they trusted Jesus to heal them, to approach the priest without knowing for sure they would be healed was risky.
  3. Jesus was impressed by the returning leper’s gratitude, and He points out to the disciples that this man was a Samaritan. In fact, Jesus gives extra blessing to this man by saying, “Your faith has made you well.” Jesus most likely meant that the leper’s faith has healed his heart as well.

Evening Reflection

This evening, take some time to think about things that rob your worship to God. One indicator is how much time you spend on an activity or think about a certain topic. Afterwards, ask the Lord to help you take steps to take a break from these things, so that you can focus on the Lord.

October 10, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Mercy even in Judgement”

Jeremiah 44:1-6

This word came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews living in Lower Egypt—in Migdol, Tahpanhes and Memphis—and in Upper Egypt: 2 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You saw the great disaster I brought on Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Today they lie deserted and in ruins 3 because of the evil they have done. They aroused my anger by burning incense to and worshiping other gods that neither they nor you nor your ancestors ever knew. 4 Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’ 5 But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their wickedness or stop burning incense to other gods. 6 Therefore, my fierce anger was poured out; it raged against the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem and made them the desolate ruins they are today.

Recently, I’ve been talking to my mother about disciplining children (since I am going to be a dad soon). My mother probably isn’t all that different from other mothers in that she hated spanking us because it made her sad to see us in pain. Deep in her heart, she hoped that her warnings would be enough to stop us from misbehaving.

In today’s passage, the Lord is once again speaking through Jeremiah to the Israelites in Egypt. He reminds them of the previous punishment that the Lord inflicted on the people of Judah because they worshipped false idols. While the Lord’s anger burned towards the people of Judah, we see that He still had mercy towards them. In verse 4, God says, “Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’” Amid their rebellion, God gave the Israelites many chances—approximately 400 years’ worth, to repent from their rebellion. Sadly, despite God’s mercy, Judah refused to repent.

There is a popular view that God is a capricious deity who delights in punishing those who do not follow His ways. Quite the contrary, Scripture presents a God who is slow to anger and rich in love. Yes, our God is truly merciful. Because He hates to punish His children, He first warns them of the consequences that will come if they refuse to repent. However, like with any rebellious child, if there is no change, discipline must be applied. But, even His discipline, which is never punitive, is meant to restore our hearts back to Him.

Our God is a God of second chances who delights in blessing His people. Let’s take some time to give thanks for His mercy.  And if you need a second chance from God, take it.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that You are merciful to us. I know You are a Holy God who cannot and will not tolerate sin, but You still give us second chances to repent of our sins. Help us not to take Your mercy for granted, and to walk in obedience to Your commandments. Amen.

Bible reading for Today: 1 Kings 15


Lunch Break Study

Read Exodus 34:4-14: So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the Lord had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. 9 “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”

10 Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Questions to Consider

  1. If the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, why does the Lord still punish?
  2. What covenant does the Lord make with the Israelites? What are His requirements?
  3. What does the Lord mean when He calls himself a “Jealous” God?

Notes

  1. While the Lord is slow to anger and rich in love, He is still a holy God, “a righteous judge” (Ps. 7:11), who needs to properly deal with sin, including punishing those who refuse to repent.  But, even in the midst of being punished for our sins, we never bear the brunt of it because “[God] does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Ps. 103:10).    
  2. The Lord promises to reveal His power and glory through the Israelites. Not only will they see God’s power, but also how He blesses the Israelites. The former reminds us that blessing is not just what God does for us, but how we can join in His work.
  3. The word “jealous” does not mean envy like how we are jealous when someone has nicer things. It is a great compliment to us that God is jealous when we offer our worship to something or someone else. Who are we that our worship would matter to God of the universe! But, it does.  It is in this context we can truly grasp the jealousness of God.

Evening Reflection

Our God is a merciful God, and He desires all people to turn back to Him. While His mercy is full of kindness, there are times where He exercises discipline to wake us up. Let’s take some time to give thanks to our Father for His mercy.

October 9, Tuesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“In God We Trust”

Jeremiah 43:4-7

So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the Lord’s command to stay in the land of Judah. Instead, Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers led away all the remnant of Judah who had come back to live in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been scattered. They also led away all those whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had left with Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan—the men, the women, the children and the king’s daughters. And they took Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch son of Neriah along with them. So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes.

In the Bible, Egypt is not just a place where God rescued the Israelites from—but it is a representation of the world. It is a place of slavery, idol worship, wickedness, and persecution. The Lord did not want the Israelites to go back to Egypt, nor did He want His people to create an alliance with them, because in doing so, the Israelites would once again be under Egypt’s spiritual and physical oppression. Simply put, Egypt represents sin, and God wants His people to stay far away from it.

In today’s passage, the Israelite leaders ignore the Lord’s warnings, and they decide to escape to Egypt . If you remember from chapter 41, this decision was made by Johanan, because he was afraid that the Chaldeans (Babylonians) might avenge the murder of their appointed governor for the land of Israel. Instead of trusting in the Lord for help, they put their trust in the great nation of Egypt. Angered by their decision, the Lord commands Jeremiah to tell the Israelites that they will fall under the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.

Ever since moving to East Asia, many of my insecurities have surfaced as a leader. And through these insecurities, I’m starting to realize that I do not trust in the Lord as much as I thought I did. I find myself relying on my limited experiences, talking to mentors, and reading different leadership material. While these things maybe not seem like “Egypt,” I find myself relying on these things more than trusting in the Lord.

Trusting in the Lord is difficult for a variety of reasons: we cannot control the situation, we think we know better, or we don’t see the “results” right away. Because of these reasons we look for security in more tangible areas such as money, relationships, or ourselves. While all of these things are not bad, they can become our “Egypts,” because they distract us from our true security: Jesus.

One way that I’ve been training myself to trust in the Lord is by remembering His faithfulness in my life. When I have pockets of time, whether on the subway or walking to school, I can just think about how God has led me up to this point. Oftentimes, I fail to trust in the Lord because I forget what He has done for me in the past.

I want to encourage you to use those pockets of time—whether on your drive to school or work, or waiting while standing in line—to remember God’s faithfulness!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness to Your people. Lord, help me to rely on You and not on our “Egypts,” for those things are temporary fixes that are fleeting, but You are forever. Help me to remember the lyrics of the hymnist Daniel B. Towner: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way. To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Amen.

Bible Reading For Today: 1 Kings 14


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Questions to Consider

  1. In which two ways does Matthew encourage us not to worry about our lives? (vv. 26-27)
  2. Who does Matthew say worry about these things? Why is this important? (v. 32)
  3. As Christians, how do we fight this worry?

Notes

  1. Matthew reminds us that the birds do not worry about storing food, because the Lord always provides for them. He also reminds us that flowers do not worry about the “clothes” they wear, because God provides for them. He accentuates Jesus’ teaching by saying that Solomon’s splendor does not come close to a flower’s beauty.
  2. Matthew reminds us that pagans worry about what to eat, drink and wear. As God’s people, we have full access to the Creator of the Universe who provides for our every need; therefore, we are to be different, and one way to set ourselves apart is by not worrying.
  3. We fight this worry by seeking God. When we make God the center of our lives, then as a loving Father, He will provide everything for us.

Evening Reflection

Before you go to bed, take a moment to reflect on one time that God has been faithful. Take a moment to write it down, and give thanks to Him. May we become intentional in trusting in Him.

October 8, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from October 8-14 are provided by Emerson Lin.  Emerson and his wife Annie (who is expecting soon) are serving as AMI missionaries in E. Asia.   

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

God, I think I know better than You”

Jeremiah 43:1-4

When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God—everything the Lord had sent him to tell them— 2 Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ 3 But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians,[a] so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.”4 So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the Lord’s command to stay in the land of Judah.

When we were little, our parents would warn us not to touch the hot pot—but we would touch it anyway.  Upon touching the hot pot, we quickly learn that touching a hot surface leads to tremendous pain. But what drives us to touch the hot surface when we were told not to? For the scientific-minded, it could be curiosity; for the rebellious, it is our arrogance trying to prove them wrong.

In this passage, Jeremiah had just finished delivering God’s command to the remnant of Israel to stay in Canaan instead of running away to Egypt. Instead of the obedience that was promised by Israelite leaders, Johanan and Jezaniah, they rebelled against God’s command (Jeremiah 42:5-6).

What caused the leaders of Israel to change their attitude from obedience to rebellion? In verse 2, we see that it was the Israelite leaders’ arrogance that led to their rebellion. They had thought that for sure God would want them to go to Egypt, but when God’s word did not align with theirs, they rejected Him. As a result, their pride and disobedience led to their destruction.

We may be looking at the Israelites with some judgment, thinking, “Didn’t they say, ‘Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you…’ How can they be so prideful?” Yet sadly, we are guilty of doing the same thing.

We all struggle with pride: it may not be outspoken pride such as boasting, but it silently exists in the form of disobedience. Like the Israelite leaders, we know what God wants or calls us to do, but we choose to follow our own path—thinking we know better than God. Our pride blinds us to believe that God is not for us, but against us.

However, the truth is that God is for us and not against us! God calls us to live a life of obedience, not because He wants to control our lives, but He truly wants us to walk in His blessing. Luke 11:28 says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Let us be followers of Christ, who through humility can walk in obedience to God’s word!

Prayer: Dear God, thank You that You want us to walk in your blessing. Forgive me for thinking that I know better than You. In those areas of my life where I want to go my own way, please remind me that “Your ways are higher than my ways.” Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 13


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 25:4-11: Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. 5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. 6 Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. 8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. 10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. 11 For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is a blessing that comes from the goodness of God? (vv.8-9)
  2. What ways of the Lord are loving and faithful? Why is this important to understand? (v.10)
  3. Spend some time meditating on this passage.

Notes

  1. Because the Lord is good and upright, He instructs sinners in His ways, He guides the humble in what is right, and He teaches them His ways.
  2. According to the psalmist, all the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful. This is important to understand, because there are moments in our lives where His ways may not make sense or align with ours. However, we must remind ourselves that God ways are best and He is always for us and not against us.
  3. Personal reflection.

Evening Reflection

What are some areas in your life that you are not entrusting to God? Take some time to reflect on the reasons that prevent you from doing so. After your reflection, ask the Lord to help you remove those things from your lives, so that you can walk in a life of obedience.

October 7, Sunday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Jeremiah 42:19-20

The Lord has said to you, O remnant of Judah, “Do not go to Egypt.” Know for a certainty that I have warned you this day 20 that you have gone astray at the cost of your lives. For you sent me to the Lord your God, saying, “Pray for us to the Lord our God, and whatever the Lord our God says, declare to us and we will do it.” 

In Monopoly, there is a card called “Get Out of Jail Free.”  If in the course of the game you find yourself in jail, all you have to do is to play this card and you are home free—meaning, you don’t have to worry about paying a fine or penalty. For many Christians in our day, this “Get Out of Jail Free” card has become metaphorical for anything that can get you out of trouble.

In the history of Christianity—and in my own ministry and even my own walk with Jesus—there has been an attitude towards the forgiveness of sins as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card:  Because Jesus died for our sins on the Cross, all of our sins are forgiven, and even if we sin again and again, our sins can be forgiven. Even if we deliberately sin, those sins can be forgiven as well.  But as we can all imagine (or already see in our own lives), it’s easy to think about this forgiveness as an unlimited “Get Out of Jail Free” card. I’ve heard people say things like, “It’s okay, I can just ask Jesus for forgiveness later.” This forgiveness is an excuse for some to live a YOLO kind of life. Even in my own mind I’ve thought, “God already knows I’m a sinner, and Jesus will forgive me anyways.”

We tend to easily underestimate the effects of sin in our lives. We take sin lightly, like a red mark on a ledger or a bad thing that has to be made up. But what we don’t often consider is that sin has greater effects upon us than just a demerit.  In verse 20, God tells the Israelites, “…you have gone astray at the cost of your lives.” The sin they were about to commit was to go to Egypt against the clear and expressed will of God—that is, choosing to not follow God’s will but to go in a wrong direction and going astray from where God wanted them to be.  And sadly, what they didn’t realize was that this would not just cost them some red marks on a ledger or a few demerits—but this sin would cost them their lives.  

Though we continue to struggle with sin and are still constantly in need of forgiveness, we shouldn’t treat the forgiveness of Jesus lightly, like a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.  Deliberately going astray from God, expecting to be forgiven afterwards, can have serious effects upon our lives that we don’t consider. Jesus died on the Cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins and be brought into relationship with God, but this didn’t just wipe our ledgers clean—it changed the trajectory of our lives to be pointed to God and to the good and abundant life that He wants us to live.  Let’s remember this: going astray from God leads us towards slavery, but to receive His forgiveness is experiencing freedom so that we don’t have to go astray anymore.

On this Lord’s Day, as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross, let us not think of it as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card; but instead, let us remember it as an invitation to the good life with God Himself.

Prayer: Jesus, I remember that it is for freedom that You have set me free.  I pray that today I will experience the freedom and goodness of being with You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  1 Kings 12