July 24, Monday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Lily Jang (in corroboration with Pastor Ryun) who attends Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia.  Lily, a graduate of Emory University and teacher by profession, spent a year in Pekanbaru, Indonesia, from 2011-12.  

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

A Lesson in Obedience

1 Samuel 15:22-3

But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

Many of us, millennials in particular, too easily pull ourselves toward achieving a performance-based faith.  It seems King Saul was too, since he was concerned more about actions to gain the approval of his soldiers (1 Sam. 15:24) rather than obeying God.  Saul was oblivious to what God wants from us: our obedience, not performance.

I learned an important lesson on obedience in July of 2016 when I took a step of faith to move down to Philadelphia from Boston. It was a decision that scared me in many ways—a step that had been in the making for years. But when I finally made the plunge, I learned two things. First, as I struggled with doubt, I learned that obedience wasn’t about having all my ducks in a row: having a safety plan, having job or financial security in Philadelphia to justify obedience, and putting hope in prophetic words I was given or what I thought I had heard from the Lord. Rather, I learned that obedience in faith was about trusting and leaning into God’s character, that He is good and that He loves me.

Second, I learned that we have the freedom to obey God’s commands out of joy and love.

The beginning walk of my faith was characterized by reluctant and obligatory obedience, and it was no different when it came to moving to Philadelphia. However, God was not content to have me drag my feet wherever He called me to go; He desired to show me a better way. My reluctant obedience had conceived questions of doubt that arose out of deep sadness and fear. In the midst of this, I desperately asked the Lord for confirmation: “If You want me to go to Philly, can You just give me a ‘yes’?” What He gave me instead was a simple question: “Will you love me?”

In 1 Samuel 15:22, we catch a glimpse of the depth of love that is involved in obedience—a foreshadowing to come of the depth of love that is exemplified through the perfect obedience of Christ, obedience that was willful and joyful. Saul’s offering of sacrifice didn’t suffice, partly because it was never meant to; but through the ultimate and fulfilling sacrifice of Christ’s obedience, we are freed to obey as in His example, to obey in joy as an expression of our love for Him.

Prayer: Father, I praise and worship You this morning.  I thank You for the marvelous plan You have for my life (Eph. 2:10).  Please help me to obey You whenever You nudge me towards a direction that I would rather not take.  Help me to trust in your goodness and character.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 24


Lunch Break Study

(Prepared by P. Ryun)

Read 1 Samuel 13:11-13b: Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, 12 I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” 13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you . . .”

1 Samuel 15:20-1, 24: And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Described here are two separate occasions in which Saul seemingly did good things (that is, he performed well), yet ultimately he disobeyed God. What happened?
  2. What factor led King Saul to disobey God?
  3. What other factors often prompt us to disobey God? Has God been telling you to do something that you would rather not do?  What is keeping you from obeying Him?

Notes

  1. In 1 Samuel 13, Saul, a Benjamite, sacrificed a burnt offering to God (not to some idol) before combating the Philistines. In doing so, he disobeyed God’s mandate that only the family of Aaron could offer sacrifices (Num. 3:2).  In 1 Samuel 15, even though God commanded Saul to wipe out the entire Amalekite population and animals, he kept the king and best of the animals.
  2. In the first instance, Saul’s disobedience stemmed from his fear that Israel would lose the battle against the Philistines if more soldiers ran away out of fear (1 Sam. 13:6-7). In the second incidence, Saul disobeyed because he cared more about what his soldiers thought of him as their leader than what God thought of him as His servant.
  3. One flip side of fear behind our disobedience is our excessive love of the security and predictability of our present lifestyle. And what keeps us from obeying God in our relationships (e.g., forgiveness) is almost always pride and self-justification.

Evening Reflection

Did you know that there is a symbiotic relationship between obedience and suffering?   Hebrews 5:8 says, “Although [Jesus] was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.”   Are you going through difficult situations at the moment?  Pray about how that experience can lead to obeying the Lord more fully from here on out.  Give it a thought, and a prayer.

July 23, Sunday

The AMI QT Devotionals July 17-23 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston.  David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace who teaches at a public school.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

I’ll Bring You More than a Song

Psalm 9:1-2

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;

I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

When I was a single man, my singleness was sometimes a source of discouragement and frustration. There was one particular season that was especially hard – I had confessed my feelings of attraction to a friend, and she rejected me. The next few months, I found it difficult to sing praise songs. Most of the time I draw energy from those praising God around me, but during that time, seeing them discouraged me even more, because I felt even more disconnected from the Lord in comparison to those around me.

One Sunday morning, my lead pastor’s wife shared some small encouragement with me that l would never forget. She challenged me to take everything I was feeling, even the discouraging thoughts and frustrations, and put them in an imaginary jar, and then offer that jar to the Lord as my “worship.” She said that this kind of worship is some of the most precious to the Lord. As I listened, something in me came awake. At that moment I realized that worship isn’t merely about having the ability to sing praise to Him. Worship is about offering myself—my heart, my thoughts, my hopes—unto Him, and entrusting Him to do His will with me. This completely changed the way I worship the Lord, and it simultaneously reversed my perspective on my singleness. Whereas previously my discouragements would hinder my intimacy with the Lord, they now became opportunities to offer worship, and confess my trust in Him. In doing so, I found myself being glad in Him!

In today’s Psalm, David does mention “I will sing praise to your name…” but he also mentions three other ways to worship God: “I will give thanks… I will recount… I will be glad and exult in you…” This morning, as you worship the Lord, let your worship not simply be relegated to the singing of praise, but also remember to give thanks, consider what He has done for you, and be glad in Him!

Perhaps you are in a season where it is especially difficult to worship God through the singing of songs. If that’s you, I would encourage you to take the current state of your heart, and entrust it unto the Lord; let that be the worship that you bring to the Lord this morning.

Prayer: Lord, we offer our whole selves to You as a living sacrifice. We come just as we are: imperfect, broken, dissatisfied. But we come by the blood of Jesus Christ. Would You wash us clean this morning, and satisfy us with Your presence. In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 23

July 22, Saturday

The AMI QT Devotionals July 17-23 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston.  David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace who teaches at a public school.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Don’t Just Do Something… Sit There”

Luke 10:38-42

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Young blond man reading the Bible with bright green background

According to Barna Research, after conducting a national survey with the question “Do you read the Bible at least once a week?” the Baby Boomer generation (55+) chimed in at 49%. The millennials were the lowest group, coming in at 24%. Now I don’t know how exact those numbers are, but one thing I can say with confidence: we are currently living in the least Bible-reading generation since the printing press made the Bible available to the public.

Ironically, our information intake has skyrocketed. A study[1] conducted eight years ago showed that the average person consumes about 100,000 words a day. Since then, with the explosion of the social media, that number has grown to around 150,000. Despite the 50% increase in information we are soaking in, we are reading the Word less and less.

But not all of this is necessarily due to an antagonistic view towards God’s Word. Most people (including Christians) simply don’t read books anymore. Our culture is shifting away from reading books and moving towards faster-paced articles and news snippets, designed to give us an adrenaline shot of information. Perhaps we need to take a cue from Mary the sister of Martha. Despite the pressures of all the things she needed to accomplish, and the fast-paced lifestyle exemplified by Martha, she slowed down and sat at Jesus’ feet.

The truth is, in this information saturated culture, when we fail to slow down and sit at Jesus’ feet, reading His Word… we will inevitably miss out on the intimacy of knowing God in the stillness. Today, spend some time slowing down and spending time in stillness at the feet of Jesus.

Prayer

Holy Spirit, help me to slow down for the sake of sitting at Your feet. Help me to see that although there may be a lot of good things going on around me, only “one thing is necessary,” and that is to know You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

[1] https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/the-american-diet-34-gigabytes-a-day/?utm_source=Cultural+Commentary&utm_campaign=85f91e2825-Man+stops+talking+for+17+years&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_51f776a552-85f91e2825-273784321&mc_cid=85f91e2825&mc_eid=1d719dca7f

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 21-22

 

July 21, Friday

The AMI QT Devotionals July 17-23 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston.  David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace who teaches at a public school.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

For Freedom Christ has Set Us Free

Galatians 4:8-9

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

In our passage today, Paul articulates one of the most frustrating realities of our human condition: the tendency to turn back to old habits. I had a powerful encounter with Jesus during the summer of my freshman year of college. It was the turning point of my life, when I decided to live my life for God.

But old habits die hard. For years, before walking with God, I had been addicted to pornography. And while I had heard of some people cutting off addictions cold-turkey when coming to Christ, my experience was not quite as clean-cut. Even after committing my life to Jesus at age 19, it took me four more years to break off my addiction. Those four years were some of the most frustrating, confusing, and trying years of my life.

When I read through Galatians, I resonate with the frustration of Paul because I see the same foolishness of the Galatian believers in myself as well. Perhaps you can resonate with this as well. Maybe you didn’t have the same struggle as I did, but I’m sure there is at least one area in your life where you think to yourself, “Why do I keep doing this, when I know that I have something better in Christ?” If that’s you, let this be your encouragement for today: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1).

The truth is that freedom from these things is possible by the blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit! This morning, may we take steps towards that freedom that is already ours in Jesus.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You that there is no condemnation for those who are in You. Help us to live out the freedom that You have purchased for us on the cross. Give us strength for the times that we are weak, tired, vulnerable, and help us to trust in You instead of turning to the habits of our former lives. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 20


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 5:20-6:2: Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Questions to Consider

  1. According to this passage, for what purpose did the law come in?
  2. In Christ, what is the relationship between sin and grace?
  3. What clarification does Paul give regarding living in the grace of God?

Notes

  1. According to Paul, in Romans, the law came in to “increase the trespass.” In other words, the law increases our awareness of the devastating power that sin has in our lives.
  2. The good news is that where sin increases, grace abounds all the more. If you are in Christ Jesus, there is always enough grace to cover and forgive each and every sin!
  3. Paul gives us an important clarification in order that we might not be tempted to take advantage of the grace of God. If we have truly died to our sins, and been made alive again in Christ, then it makes no sense for us to go back to our old habits, armed with a theological doctrine that says God’s grace will cover any and all sins.

Evening Reflection

Spend some time this evening praying for yourself, especially if you have some old habits that you’d like to be rid of but have very little hope for overcoming them. Ask the Lord for grace and strength in the Holy Spirit to live out the freedom that is yours in Christ.21

July 20, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals July 17-23 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston.  David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace who teaches at a public school.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Unity in Christ

Galatians 3:26-29

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Back in 2010, I attended a mission trip in rural China with a small team, including the head pastor of the church I was attending at that time. It was a humbling experience to meet the over 50 Chinese house church leaders who had gathered to receive training from our team. Our team consisted of a few college students (I had just graduated from college), and our lead pastor, yet there we were in rural China, teaching and equipping underground church leaders who were old enough to be my grandparents and had withstood the hardships of government persecution. Needless to say, our lead pastor did most of the teaching/preaching.

It happened on the second day. During one of the teaching sessions, we were ambushed and raided by the police. They kicked down the door of the barn-house we were meeting in, and arrested my lead pastor. They shoved him into a police car and drove off without a word. Chaos ensued and my team and I began to panic. Many of the Chinese church leaders began packing their belongings in order to flee to a safer place. We had nowhere to go. It was then that I noticed around 30 of the church leaders who remained seated. They weren’t packing or leaving. Their hands were raised in intercession for my pastor. One of the women pulled me aside and said something I’d never forget: “When you suffer, we all suffer, because we are family.” I began to tear up, because until that moment I had never experienced such beautiful unity in the body of Christ. In nearly every way I was different from these house church leaders. I was younger, I spoke a different language, I came from a different country/culture. And yet, in Christ, we were bonded. We were one!

Ultimately, my pastor ended up being released from prison after just one day. However much we actually taught the Chinese church leaders, I will never forget the love they showed our team. They risked their own safety for the sake of remaining with us and interceding for us during a time of trial and persecution. That is the kind of unity that Paul wished upon the Galatian churches when he said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

This morning, spend some time praying for your church, that in Christ, there would be unity that is able to overcome any hardship.

Prayer: Father, build and strengthen the unity of Your church. Protect us from becoming divided. May we embrace those who feel isolated. Thank You that the bond of Christ’s blood is stronger than any dividing force. Especially during trials and hard times, teach us to lay our lives down for one another. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 19


Lunch Break Study

Read John 17:20-21: I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Questions to Consider

  1. This is from a passage that is known as Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. Who is Jesus praying for here?
  2. What is Jesus praying for here?
  3. What seems to be the purpose for Jesus asking God the Father for this kind of unity?

Notes

  1. You may need to look at the immediate context in order to see this more clearly, but Jesus is actually praying for all future believers/Christians, “for those who will believe in me….” This portion of His prayer is not only for His current disciples, but also for those to come. In other words, He is praying specifically for us!
  2. Jesus prays that we would have unity. Amazingly, He refers to His own perfect unity with the Father as the example of the type of unity that He wants us to have, that “they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you.” Furthermore, Jesus prays, “that they also may be in us.” This is an incredible statement implying that Jesus intends the church to not only be united within itself, but also profoundly united with the Triune God Himself.
  3. Jesus ends this thought by saying, “So that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Unity is not merely an end in itself. The unity of the church is a vehicle for God’s will to be done, that the world would come to know and believe in Jesus.

Evening Reflection

Our nation is arguably more divided than it has ever been before. Amidst all the chaos and disunity manifesting in politics and social media, let us pray that the Church would lead the way in demonstrating a flavor of unity that is only possible by the blood of Christ.

July 19, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals July 17-23 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston.  David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace who teaches at a public school.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

The Gospel is Every Meal

Galatians 3:1-3

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

My grandmother lives in the rural countryside of Korea. Miles of rice paddies lie in each direction of her humble home. During high school, I had the opportunity to live with her for the better part of a week. I was thrilled, because on the first evening, she cooked the most amazing Korean food for me: rice, kimchi, soup, and fish. I went to bed utterly satisfied. The next morning I woke up to a breakfast table that looked strangely familiar: rice, kimchi, soup, and fish. But it wasn’t leftovers; it was the same food, cooked fresh. Slightly confused, I shrugged it off because the meal was certainly good enough to enjoy for a second time. And then lunch rolled around, and believe it or not, it was the same food. Cooked fresh. Again! Your suspicions are correct, nearly every single meal at my grandmother’s house consisted of virtually the exact same things. However, I did not complain, for two reasons: First of all, the food was absolutely delicious. But secondly, I realized that this is how my grandmother eats all the time! This woman had learned to enjoy and savor the same meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, day after day, for decades.

My own taste buds are wired to want new, different, exotic things. For many of us, food is exciting only as long as it keeps changing. But our spiritual food must not be like this. In our passage today, Paul rebukes the Galatian church because although they had started their faith journey in the gospel, for some reason they kept adding different things to it, straying away from the true gospel in favor of other spiritual trends. We too can often fall into this trap when we view the gospel merely as spiritual “baby food.” With this mindset, we think that as Christians mature, they outgrow their need for the gospel and graduate onto more mature things.

But Paul completely refutes this notion. In the book of Galatians, Paul is basically saying that the gospel is not merely the baby food of Christianity, but the gospel is every single meal! In other words, the gospel is necessary at every level of growth. We will never outgrow our need for the gospel, because even when we become the most mature versions of ourselves, we are still in need of the grace of God in the blood of Christ. Spend some time this morning remembering the gospel, and re-confessing our need for it.

Prayer: Jesus, we need You. Every hour we need you. As much as we needed You on the day of our salvation, we need You today. Today, help me to live in light of the Gospel. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 18


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 51:7-12: Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does the psalmist (David) seem to be asking for in this psalm?
  2. What kind of joy is David seeking from the Lord?
  3. Typically, we experience joy when good things are happening around us. How is this kind of joy different?

Notes

  1. David uses many supplicatory verbs in this Psalm: purge me, wash me, create in me, cast me not away. He seems to be asking for forgiveness for his sins and renewal of his heart. The heading of this Psalm informs us that David wrote this after Nathan had rebuked him for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba.
  2. David asks of God, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.”
  3. Typically, joy has to do with good things happening to us and around us – when we get a promotion, or good grades, or acceptance into med school, etc. On the other hand, “joy of salvation” is not based on our circumstances, but it’s a joy that is sourced in God’s faithfulness. At the time of writing this Psalm, David was not in a good situation, yet he cries out for God to restore the “joy of salvation” to him. Even in the worst situations, we have a source of joy that is not dependent upon our circumstances. We can always rejoice in the faithfulness of our God, who has saved us and will continue to save us.

Evening Reflection

There are many earthly things that make us rejoice. When was the last time you rejoiced in God’s faithfulness? This evening, regardless of how your day or week has been going, spend some time rejoicing in Him.

July 18, Tuesday

The AMI QT Devotionals July 17-23 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston.  David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace who teaches at a public school.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Gospel Contextualization

Galatians 2:7-9

On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

Last year, there was a huge debacle concerning Epi-pens. If you’re unfamiliar with the product, it’s a handheld device that is used to inject 0.3 milligrams of epinephrine into someone who is having a severe allergic reaction or going through anaphylactic shock. The reason Epi-pens were in the news was because of the outrageous jump in price. What used to be only $50 suddenly skyrocketed to $400 per Epi-pen.

Interestingly, the actual cost of one dose of epinephrine is roughly 10 cents! Why, then, were people shelling out $400 for an Epi-pen? Because they were paying for the “delivery system.” The delivery system is just as important as the substance being delivered. See, you can’t just swallow a spoon of epinephrine; it is only effective if it is injected into the body using the appropriate delivery system.

In a similar way, the gospel must also be accompanied by a thoughtful, appropriate, delivery system. In our passage today, we see the leaders of the early church acknowledging and affirming that ministering to the circumcised Jews and the uncircumcised Gentiles required different “delivery systems.” This is called contextualization. The gospel message has always remained the same, but the delivery method has necessarily changed across the various cultures, languages, traditions, and generations. Of course a delivery system without explicit gospel content is just like an Epi-pen without epinephrine: empty and useless. But the gospel message without proper, thoughtful contextualization can also often lead to misunderstandings.

This morning I want to invite you to consider your delivery system for the gospel. How can you effectively contextualize the gospel message for your campus/workplace/home? Ask the Holy Spirit for insight as to how you can better communicate the Good News to those around you.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, teach me how to be a deliverer of Good News to those You’ve placed around me. Today, open my eyes to opportunities to minister to my classmates/coworkers/ friends/family. Give me wisdom and boldness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 17


Lunch Break Study

Read Acts 17:22-25; 30-31: So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything… The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

Questions to Consider

  1. To whom is Paul preaching the gospel to?
  2. How does Paul contextualize the gospel to these people?
  3. How is this gospel presentation different from others we see in Scripture?

Notes

  1. Paul is in Athens, preaching to Greek Gentiles. He mentions that they are a very religious people.
  2. Paul uses the spirituality of the Athenians as an entry point for the gospel message. He notices that they even have an altar to “an unknown god.” Seeing their desire to worship deities, Paul begins his gospel presentation by establishing that there is but one true God, who is bigger than creation and uncontainable by temples. He concludes his message by calling the Athenians to repent and turn to the true God.
  3. This is the same gospel message, but a very different delivery system than the ones we see presented to the Jews. First, there is no mention of the Law or circumcision. In nearly every case where the gospel is preached to the Jews, it begins with Moses and the Law. But the Mosaic Law means little to nothing to the Athenians, and so Paul has no need to mention it. Also, interestingly, Paul doesn’t mention the name Jesus yet. He merely refers to Jesus by calling Him “a man whom [God] has appointed.” Perhaps this is because Jesus (Yeshua) is a Hebrew name, and mentioning a Hebrew name might have immediately lost much of his audience. Paul knows that without Christ there is no gospel, but at the same time, he refers to Jesus without mentioning His Hebrew name in order to contextualize to the Athenians.

Evening Reflection

This evening, spend some time praying for those around you who do not yet know Jesus. While thoughtful contextualization is something we must continue to work on, at the end of the day, the Holy Spirit must soften and turn hearts towards Him. Let’s ask the Spirit to move in our city.