2 Kings 21, Zephaniah 1, John 13

Read 2 Kings 21, Zephaniah 1, and John 13 today. This devotional is about Zephaniah 1.

The prophets and the historical books of the Old Testament document for us centuries of idolatry, injustice to the poor, violence, sexual misconduct, and many other sins among the people of God.  God’s punishment for these sins came when the Assyrians defeated the Northern Kingdom of Israel and–later–the Babylonians defeated the Southern Kingdom of Judah. 

But God was not only displeased by the sins of his people; he was also angry about the lack of spiritual desire and growth among the people. In verse 12 here in Zephaniah 1 God said, “At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent…” A complacent person is one who is stagnant. It is a person who is not growing or getting stronger; instead, the complacent person has given up. He or she is someone who has concluded that “the way it is” is “the way it will be.”

The next three phrases in verse 12 tell us that the complacent “are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad.’” They think, “God won’t judge us” but also “God isn’t going to bless us.” They are resigned to the situation as it is and have no expectation that it will get better or worse.

The reality is, however, that unless you are striving to get better, things are getting worse. You know this as an adult; your level of physical fitness declines as you get older unless you work on getting stronger and fitter. Your diet may stay the same for years but your health does not stay the same; it gets poorer. It may take a long time before it gets really bad, but it won’t get better without effort.

The Bible teaches us to be content but that is not at all the same as being complacent. Contentment means being satisfied with the results God gives you for your work and your effort. It is the opposite of being jealous or envious or materialistic; it is not the opposite of working hard or striving for improvement. God sees complacency as a sin to be addressed as well (see verse 13). It isn’t the same as idolatry but neither one is glorifying to God.

Where in your life are you complacent? Have you put your ministry in our church on autopilot? By that I mean that you’re still showing up and doing it but not with the same level of excellence or creativity or heart that you once had? 

Is your walk with God hindered by complacency? How about your family life or your financial health? Is it your physical body or your work that you’ve given up on? 

Complacency stems from a lack of faith. The last phrase of verse 12 teaches the mindset of the complacent; this person thinks, “The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad.” That’s the motto of a man or woman who doesn’t expect anything from God–either judgment or blessing. Is that where you are?

What would your life be like if you expected to be disciplined by the Lord for your sin or to be blessed by him for your faithfulness? Repent of your complacency and ask God to breathe fresh life into your life by faith.

1 Kings 20, Amos 6, 2 Peter 1

Read 1 Kings 20, Amos 6, and 2 Peter 1 today. This devotional is about Amos 6.

A stable life is a peaceful life but, if we’re not careful, it can become a complacent life.

Complacency, to me, is very similar to laziness. It is a satisfaction with life that causes someone to quit striving for excellence. This is the attitude that the Lord, through Amos, addressed here in Amos 6.

Verse 1 tells us that this is directed to two groups of people—those “in Zion” which was Jerusalem, the capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judah and “on Mount Samaria” which was the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Who lives in these places? “Notable men” as verse 1 calls them live there; in other words, this is a prophecy directed to the leadership of both nations.

Verses 4-7 describe the life of leisure these people have. They “lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on your couches” (v. 4a). They “dine on choice lambs and fattened calves” (v. 4b). They “strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments” (v. 5). they “drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions” (v. 6).

Sounds like a nice life, don’t you think? God didn’t think so because he said: “But you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.” That was a reference to the spiritual decline of the nation.

This is one reason why materialism is so dangerous to spiritual growth. When you have everything you want, it is easy to believe that God is not important.

Our struggles may be painful, but they keep us dependent on Christ. If it has been a good year for you financially, how’s your walk with God going? If your life is placid and relatively problem free, have you started to dabble in sin or slack off on your church attendance?

If you have become complacent spiritually–or in any other way in your life–what would be a good way to respond to the teaching and rebuke in this passage of scripture?

Joshua 5:1-6:5, Jeremiah 30-31, 2 Corinthians 12

Read Joshua 5:1-6:5, Jeremiah 30-31, and 2 Corinthians 12 today. This devotional is about Joshua 5:1-6:5.

For decades God had provided manna for his people to eat in the desert. For most of the people in this generation, that was all they knew. Six days a week manna was waiting for them in the morning; on the sixth day, they gathered enough to feed them for the Sabbath as well. I wonder if it ever occurred to the younger adults in Israel that the manna would stop some day? Or, if they did ever think about that, if they thought it would continue until they had conquered some territory and were settled?

Regardless of what they expected, the manna stopped when they entered the promised land. They ate a Passover meal and the manna was no more (v. 12).

Yet God was not done caring for his people. The crazy instructions that the Lord gave to Joshua about how to conquer Jericho is proof of that. Instead of laying siege to this fortified city or doing a frontal assault, God just told them to march around it.

Day after day for one whole week, they played ring-around-the-rosies with Jericho. On day 7, they did that seven times and, boom, the walls of the city sang “we all fall down.” This strategy was designed to show Israel that God was in control of their conquest and that their victories were due to him fighting on their behalf. There would be more traditional battles in the future, ones where God’s people would use conventional weapons and warfare to take cities. But this conquest of Jericho was to show them that it was God’s might, God’s power, God’s promises that would give them the land, not their military prowess.

Isn’t the Christian life just this way? We look for God to provide for us and make it easy. Sometimes he does that to show us that he is with us. But, more often, God calls us to trust his promises and cultivate the land ourselves. God commands us to claim his power but show it by doing battle with our will, our sin nature. We get deeply disappointed with God for not causing holiness to descend into our lives like manna. We are thankful when he gives victory in our lives one day, but then calls us to do battle ourselves in faith that he is fighting with us and for us.

Israel’s failure to get everything God promised them was a failure of faith. Instead of learning the lessons of the manna and Jericho and boldly taking the rest of the land, God’s people became too satisfied too soon.

Don’t allow a complacent attitude to keep you from striving, from growing strong in Christ. Although this passage has to do with miraculous food and miraculous military victory, God works in the same way in all domains in life. Trust that the God who provided for Israel miraculously until they could reap his provision providentially will provide providentially for you, too, if you work at your life in faith. Trust that he’ll be there to provide supernaturally when you need him to, but that he’s already providing what you need through his divine providence. Claim all this by faith and do the hard work of daily Bible study, daily prayer, daily fighting the sinful impulses of the flesh, daily working hard at your profession and your relationships.

1 Chronicles 9–10, Hebrews 12, Amos 6, Luke 1:39–80

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Chronicles 9–10, Hebrews 12, Amos 6, Luke 1:39–80. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Amos 6.

A stable life is a peaceful life but, if we’re not careful, it can become a complacent life. Complacency, to me, is very similar to laziness. It is a satisfaction with life that causes someone to quit striving for excellence. This is the attitude that the Lord, through Amos, addressed here in Amos 6. Verse 1 tells us that this is directed to two groups of people—those “in Zion” which was Jerusalem, the capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judah and “on Mount Samaria” which was the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Who lives in these places? “Notable men” as verse 1 calls them live there; in other words, this is a prophecy directed to the leadership of both nations. Verses 4-7 describe the life of leisure these people have. They “lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on your couches” (v. 4a). They “dine on choice lambs and fattened calves” (v. 4b). They “strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments” (v. 5). they “drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions” (v. 6). Sounds nice, yes? “But you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.” This is a reference to the spiritual decline of the nation. 

This is one reason why materialism is so dangerous to spiritual growth. When you have everything you want, it is easy to believe that God is not important. Our struggles may be painful, but they keep us dependent on Christ. As we move toward Thanksgiving, this is a helpful warning. If it has been a good year for you financially, how’s your walk with God going?

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.