April 30, Sunday

 The AMI QT Devotionals from April 24-30 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 their first baby Tyler.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Church Isn’t a Building”

2 Corinthians 6:16-18

What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

It may sound weird, but, for me, it always feels special to enter an actual church building, especially cathedrals. There’s a certain sense of reverence and awe that I feel when I’m in a beautiful sanctuary with long pews, stained glassed windows and a big pipe organ to boot.  Having been a part of mobile churches like GCC and of Symphony Church since my college days, I’m very much accustomed to having worship services in all sorts of locations: lecture halls, banquet halls, rock clubs, retreat centers, hotels, schools, living rooms, basements, giant tents, outdoor parks, beaches, etc.  That is probably why I feel the way I do whenever I get to worship in a “real” church building.

Yes, I am mindful of the saying, “Church isn’t a building,” which is important to note, especially for those who are overly impressed by the outward appearance of a church.  The disciples were like that:

upon seeing the temple, they said, “Look, . . . What massive stones!  What magnificent building!” (Mk. 13:1).  Now, think about how we might evaluate whether a church is good or so-so.  We may not verbalize it but many of us want the ambience to be right: the lighting must be good; the band needs to play cool songs at the right tempo, pace and volume; and of course, the sermon needs to be rich in biblical content, intellectually stimulating and applicable. When these elements are present and there’s a community of people who are to our liking, many would consider that a good church.  No, not really because these elements are not what the church is about either.

Actually, the church is still about a building but in a different sense.  Paul says here in 2 Corinthians that “We are the temple of the living God.” Think about what an amazing statement that is coming from a man of Jewish background.  As hinted earlier, the temple, like cathedrals of our time, was indeed ornate, large and beautiful; however, what made it significant was what was inside: it was a holy place because of the indwelling presence and the glory of God. The Jews went to the temple with a sense of reverence because that’s where God was.

And ever since Jesus died on the cross for us and rose from the dead, WE are the temple of the living God, now; the glory and presence of God dwells within us.  God himself says in this passage quoted from Leviticus 26, that “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them.”  Just think about how amazing this truth is.  God isn’t contained to a church building or a temple, but now He dwells within and among His people.

Church isn’t a building, but it’s about a people among whom God dwells.  As we gather with our local church bodies this Lord ’s Day, as we walk into an auditorium, lecture hall, rock club, school, hotel, tent, whatever the venue, let us remind ourselves that WE are the temple, the dwelling place of the living God.  As we gather as the body of Christ, God’s glory is among us. Let us come together and approach Him with joy and reverence because He is in our midst.

Prayer: Jesus, we are your temple. Remind me on this Lord’s Day to be in awe of your presence with me and with us as a body of Christ.  Bless us as we worship you this day.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 23-24

April 29, Saturday

 The AMI QT Devotionals from April 24-30 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 their first baby Tyler.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Commending Ourselves in Christ”

2 Corinthians 6:4-10

but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

As a pastor and probably also as an Asian, I feel somewhat awkward when I receive a compliment about a sermon I preached or some other ministry responsibilities that I carried out.  The Asian side of me simply isn’t used to receiving compliments, but the Christian/pastor side of me feels awkward about them because I’m supposed to strive for humility and not let myself get “proud” about what I have done.  Because of this, I find it interesting that Paul is willing to say in 2 Corinthians that “as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way.”

Since it seems strange that any servant would try to commend or prove himself to others, we should be mindful of the context of 2 Corinthians.  Here, Paul tried to establish that he was a servant of God to the Corinthian congregants who were rumblings about whether he was worthy to be considered as an apostle or someone with spiritual authority over them.  Paul certainly was not trying to boast or show off, but even if he was, he had a funny way of doing it.  If Christians were required to apply for a position as God’s servant, having to submit a resume that shows why they should be selected for the position, Paul probably wouldn’t have gotten an interview!   Now, while the approval by the Holy Spirit and the power of God certainly would’ve worked to his advantage, experiences such as afflictions, hardships, and poverty wouldn’t have; that is, these don’t seem like the kind of stuff that anyone should be boasting about.  So why would Paul boast about these things?

Paul commended himself because all that he had on his resume, including the trials and struggles he had gone through as someone striving to serve God, pointed to something beyond him.  The apostle was able to endure all of the hardship and boast about it because he was empowered by the love of Jesus to love the church.  Because Paul so intimately knew the love of God, he could declare that he was sorrowful but always rejoicing, that he was poor or having nothing but really possessing everything.  He was so in love with Jesus that he knew that all he had was in Christ and that no afflictions or calamities or hunger or anything could hinder him from displaying that love to the church and to the world.

As we all strive to be servants of God in this world, let us commend ourselves to this world by displaying that all we have is in Christ.  We may face hardships, trials, and persecution, but we can always be rejoicing in the midst of them as we have been deeply touched by God’s immense love expressed through His Son Jesus.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your love for me. I pray that as I know you more and more, that I can be empowered to be your servant in this world. Help me to remember that all I have is in you, and give me strength to endure anything that comes my way.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 21-22

April 28, Friday

 The AMI QT Devotionals from April 24-30 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 their first baby Tyler.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“No Obstacles or Stumbling Blocks”

2 Corinthians 6:3

We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry

When I was a junior in college, I became a Christian while attending Grace Covenant Church (Philadelphia). One of the important factors that led me to Christ was the community—especially the family group that I was a part of that year. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people my age, who were passionately pursuing growth in their relationship with God—and that was inspiring to me. I saw brothers and sisters praying with fervor, reading the Bible, and attending church in various forms—three times a week—because they wanted to encounter God. Not only that, they were meeting with me and investing into my life so that I could grow too.  I really thought that I had found a church “full of angels.”

Well, that thought unfortunately did not last.  One day that year, there was a group of us from the church, sitting and hanging out, when one person got up and left to head to a meeting. Then one of these “supposed angels” who was still there said something derogatory and gossipy about the person who had just left.  I was appalled.  I doubt anyone noticed, but I was in shock that a Christian could speak that way about another—especially when I thought they were the angel-type Christians.

Of course we are not perfect angels, but we are sinners saved by the grace of God.  Nevertheless, as Christians and as ambassadors of Christ, we represent Jesus; and if we’re not careful, we can unwittingly put obstacles and barriers for others that could hinder them from growing in their relationship with Jesus.  For that reason, it was apostle Paul’s ambition to not stumble anyone—and that should be ours as well.  We should strive for holiness, be wise with our words, and be aware of how our actions and choices are perceived by others.

This can easily feel like a burden or works-based righteousness for us. But our motive for striving to put no obstacles for others is because of our love for them and for their growth —not for our salvation.  If we have experienced the grace of God and have been compelled by the love of Jesus, then with the power of His love, we can minister to others without stumbling them—we can be ambassadors for Christ!

Prayer

Jesus, I pray that the way I live my life will be a reflection of Your love.  I pray for wisdom with my words and actions this day, not for my personal righteousness, but for the sake of those around me. Help me so that I would put no obstacles in their way, but instead, may I embody Your love to them.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 20


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Genesis 39:1-6: Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. 6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why did Potiphar find Joseph so trustworthy?
  2. What do you think Potiphar’s opinion of God was?
  3. What would someone learn about God from the way you live your life?

Notes

  1. Joseph was so trustworthy because he was faithful and successful in all that he did. Though it was evident that God’s blessing was with him, it’s also safe to say that Joseph was really good at his job as well.  It seemed like Potiphar trusted Joseph’s ability and his integrity so much so that he let Joseph makes all of the decisions and handle all of his finances.
  2. Potiphar likely had a high opinion of God because of Joseph. He could see Joseph’s integrity and success in his work, and knew that it was because the Lord was with him.  We can assume Potiphar knew that it was the Lord, because Joseph told him it was so.
  3. Personal reflection question.

EVENING REFLECTION

Even when we know that we have the grace of God, it can still feel like a burden when we strive to be good witnesses to the world.  All the more, we need to remember that God doesn’t require or expect perfection from us in our relationship with Him.  Take some time to remember God’s love for you, and pray that God will strengthen you to continue to be an ambassador for Him.

April 27, Thursday

 The AMI QT Devotionals from April 24-30 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 their first baby Tyler.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Not Tourists but Ambassadors”

2 Corinthians 5:20

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

One of the biggest pitfalls of the social media is that we see pictures of people on vacation.  We’ll go into Facebook and see that friend from college having an amazing time, swimming with dolphins in the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.  Or on Instagram, we may see a neighbor on a rustic European vacation, surveying the beautiful Roman architecture, hiking through the Alps, and eating exquisite European cuisine.

Now, of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking a vacation or going sightseeing, but when we see these pictures pop up on our screen, a couple of problems arise:  First of all, most of us can’t avoid feeling a sense of envy or comparison and think, I need to go to such and such a place and take in the sights, sounds, and food! We can’t help but want to be tourists of all of these different parts of the world.  Secondly, as we are exposed to these pictures again and again, we get lulled into a mindset that this world is our playground and that the main purpose of going to any place is for our enjoyment and consumption.  These destinations end up being places to be used and enjoyed, where we just drop in for our own personal pleasure and then leave.  Meanwhile, we become desensitized to the fact that these are places are where people live, where there are people who need to be reconciled to God, and where people are in need of a Savior.

We are not called to be tourists to all of the hotspots of this world—but rather we called to be ambassadors for Christ. Ambassadors do go to foreign lands, but they don’t go only to consume and enjoy; they go to represent their kingdom, appealing to others on behalf of their king.  As ambassadors for Christ, we are called to go and cross cultures—domestically and internationally—with a divine purpose.  We need to see every person that we encounter as people that God wants to make His appeal to, so that we could be a blessing to the people of this world.  Let us strive to represent our King this day as ambassadors for Christ!

Prayer: Jesus, I pray that today, I can be an ambassador for You. Help me live in this world while not being of this world. Help me turn away from a consumer mindset, but instead may I seek to be a blessing wherever I go this day.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 20


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Jonah 4:5-10: Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Questions to Consider

  1. What made Jonah exceedingly glad about the plant?
  2. How did Jonah feel about the people of Nineveh?
  3. How often do you and I have more love for inanimate objects, and what they do for us, than for people we see or walk by every day, people made in the image of God? According to this passage, how does God feel about them?

Notes

  1. Because it provided a shade for him as he sat in the hot sun—he enjoyed the plant because of what it did for him.
  2. It says that Jonah was sitting where he sat to “see what would become of the city,” thinking he had front row seats for when the city of Nineveh would be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah. Clearly, Jonah had no love for the 120,000 people of the city of Nineveh.  He did not see them as people whom God loved and wanted to make His appeal towards, but he essentially saw them in his own mind as less than human.
  3. God clearly has a heart for the people of Nineveh—calling it a “great city”—and God even makes it a point to show that He knows the number of people in that city. We should reflect on our own hearts and how we need more of God’s heart for the people of this world.

EVENING REFLECTION

What does it mean for you to live like an ambassador of Christ in your neighborhood, school, job, family, etc.?  Think about how you can continue to change your mindset from that of a tourist/consumer, to that of ambassador, as you experience God’s heart for you.

April 26, Wednesday

 The AMI QT Devotionals from April 24-30 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 their first baby Tyler.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“According to the Flesh”

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

Rightly or wrongly, in any news story in the United States, it is incredibly easy for people to point their fingers and claim that race was a major factor. We see this in major issues like elections, laws, and systems of government, as well as in minor issues, such as the skin color of the actors cast in a movie or TV show.  A couple of weeks ago, there was a shocking video of a man being dragged off of an airplane, and it took no time for people to wonder if the fact that the man was Asian had anything to do with it.

Racism in our day is terrible—and it should be a concern for everyone. However, what I’ve noticed is that it’s really easy to point our fingers at someone else and declare, “Racism! You’re a racist!” but it’s much harder to turn that finger around, point at ourselves and confess, “I am racist!” If all of us, people of any color, culture or backgrounds, were to be honest with ourselves, and to reflect on our own thoughts and patterns, I think we would discover the truth that, as apostle Paul would say, we regard people according to the flesh, or as we would say in our culture, “We are racists.”

This is an uncomfortable but unavoidable truth. When we walk down a street and see someone of a certain culture dressed a certain way, we cannot help but make a snap judgment in our minds about what kind of person he or she is. When we look at people around us, we cannot help but think about their potential, based on how they look or how they act. We all are wired to see others “according to the flesh.”

There are many potential solutions that are promoted in our day to recognize and overcome our biases, whether it’s better laws, better education, more exposure to different cultures and people groups, etc. But the only way for any one of us to overcome our own racist tendencies is to become new creations in Christ. We have to be born again in order to see others rightly.  Paul says that we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, meaning that he and others saw Jesus either as a teacher, an instigator, a heretic, or a terrible man who died shamefully on a cross.  But then he says, “…we regard him thus no longer.”  Instead, he and others saw Him as a risen Savior and King.  The only way Paul could overcome his bias and discrimination was that he had to become a new creation.  If we become new creations in Christ, we, then, have the power to regard no one according to the flesh, but see others through God’s eyes.

Prayer: Jesus, I pray that in You I can be and live like a new creation. Forgive me for how I view others according to the flesh, but help me to see people as You see them.  Overcome my bias and discrimination, and may my life be a reflection of Your love. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 19


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Luke 18:9-14: He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What did the Pharisee think about the tax collector? Put yourself in the Pharisee’s shoes. What would you think about this tax collector?
  2. How did the tax collector see himself? How did God see the tax collector?
  3. What is the root of regarding others according to the flesh? How can we overcome this way of “regarding” others?

Notes

  1. When the Pharisee saw this tax collector, he automatically judged him as a sinful and unrighteous man. Tax collectors in that time had a reputation of being corrupt men, who betrayed the Jewish people by working for the enemy (Rome), and making this worse, they were thought to be cheating the people of money for their own gain.
  2. The tax collector saw himself as a sinner. He knew his sinful state, and he humbled himself because he knew that he was unworthy to be before a holy God. God saw his humble state with love and justified him.
  3. The root of regarding others according to the flesh is pride and comparison. The Pharisee saw himself as righteous in comparison to this tax collector—not comparing himself to the holy God.  In racism, and other forms of discrimination, the root of it is also pride, seeing oneself as superior over another in terms of race, gender, profession, status, etc.  The only way to overcome this is to view ourselves as the tax collector viewed himself—a wretched sinner in need of mercy from the holy God.

EVENING REFLECTION

Let’s pray for the issues of racism in this country. Pray that reconciliation will happen between different ethnic and cultural groups.  But let us first pray for ourselves that we may live as new creations and that the church will show the world what it means to regard others not according to the flesh but to see others as God sees them.

April 25, Tuesday

 The AMI QT Devotionals from April 24-30 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 their first baby Tyler.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Walking by Faith”

2 Corinthians 5:6-7

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 

Once in a while, when I’m walking alone with just a few people around, I will try to walk with my eyes closed.  Inspired by comic book characters and blind kung fu masters, I like to imagine that I could walk ahead, relying only on my hearing and my imaginary, nonexistent radar senses.  Not surprisingly though, I don’t get very far before I remember that don’t have superpowers, and chicken out because I don’t want to run into an oncoming traffic.  After all, when we walk, we always walk by sight.

Whenever we’re traveling somewhere, we want to be able to see what is ahead, where to turn, and what obstacles are ahead.  This applies to when we’re trying to get somewhere in life. We want to know what to expect, what to major in, what job to take, which city to live in, and who we should marry. One of the hardest things for any of us to do is to take the path of uncertainty, for none of us like to go into situations completely blind or unsure of what the outcome might be.  So when Paul tells us that we walk by faith and not by sight, it seems impossible; it sounds like we have to dive into situations completely blind, not knowing what might happen, and not being able to see the path ahead at all.

If, however, we think about what walking by faith really means, it is not a path of uncertainty.  To walk by faith means to live our lives, trusting that Jesus sees and knows our path. We may feel uncertain and uneasy, but what we need to remember is that our vision is so small and so limited compared to God’s vision.  We certainly don’t have superpowers, but we can walk not by sight but by faith, knowing that Jesus sees everything and knows our path!

Prayer: Jesus, help me to walk by faith this day. I pray that I will not trust in my own vision or in my own plans, but instead, may I trust that You are in control.  Walking by faith in You feels uncertain, but I trust that You are leading me to the paths that are so much greater than my own way.  Help me to trust in You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 18


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Mark 8:22-26: And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is unique about how Jesus heals this blind man?
  2. Why does it take two tries for Jesus to heal him? What point could He be making?
  3. When you think about where you are and where you are going in life, how do you think your “vision” is? How could you see what’s ahead more clearly?

Notes

  1. Jesus does not immediately heal this blind man, but instead, He takes His time. He takes this man by the hand and leads him away from the village. Jesus then spits in his eyes and lays His hands on his eyes, but it takes two tries for this man to be fully healed.
  2. The man could see after the first time Jesus touches his eyes, but his vision was blurry.  After the second time, though, the man could see clearly.  Jesus seems to be giving a message to us and to His disciples that when it comes to our vision or our understanding, we must recognize that even though we can see, it doesn’t mean we see things clearly.  In the surrounding context in Mark 8, we discover that Jesus’ own disciples could see Jesus and thought of Him as the Messiah, but even then, their vision was blurry.
  3. Personal reflection question. To be able to “see” what’s ahead, we need to let the Word of God be the lamp unto our feet, just as Psalm 119 says. As we understand the Word of God and depend on God to guide us, He will direct our steps.

EVENING REFLECTION

Were you walking by faith today? It’s easy to just pass the day, not thinking about where our trust in God fits into the small or the mundane parts of our lives.  Regardless of what your walk was like today, close out this day with a prayer of faith, declaring that God is the one who is sustaining and guiding your life.

April 24, Monday

 The AMI QT Devotionals from April 24-30 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 their first baby Tyler.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Longing”

2 Corinthians 5:1-2

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling

We are always longing for something greater or better. When we’re kids, we long to grow up, be bigger and taller.  When we’re in school, we long to finish and graduate so that we can do something meaningful (or at least get a real job). When we’re working, we long for a better job or better pay, or if nothing else, a great vacation.  Even in the mundane things of life, we long for something better. Smartphones are even designed to make us long and wait for a new next text or notification and, of course— the next smartphone.  You could say that we are created with this longing for something greater.

Of course it’s important for us to seek contentment, as Paul says that he learned to be content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11). We should be content and thankful in everything because God is a giver of good gifts and has given us every spiritual blessing; but at the same time, we have to remember that this is not our home.  So we should not feel bad if there is dissatisfaction in our hearts and still long for something greater, because we were created to desire for something greater than what we have here, knowing that this world is not our home.

Our dissatisfaction only becomes a problem when the things we are longing for are way too small in comparison to what God has in store for us. We yearn for better relationships, better status in life, more possessions, more vacations, etc. These are not necessarily bad goals and dreams, but they are immeasurably inferior to the house in heaven, the eternal life that God has for us with Him in heaven.  It is okay for us to keep striving for something better in our lives, but we must remember that the only path to true satisfaction, contentment and joy is when we long for our home in heaven. Let us strive, then, to not be content with where we are, but let us long for the eternal home we have with God in heaven!

Prayer: Jesus, I thank You because You have prepared a place for me in the Father’s house. While I am thankful for all of the ways that You have blessed me, I pray that I will yearn and long for heaven and eternal life with You this day.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 17


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Revelation 21:1-4: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Questions to Consider

  1. How would you describe heaven, based on this passage?
  2. What makes heaven a place to be longed for?
  3. How can you long for heaven this day?

Notes

  1. The adjective repeated three times in this passage is “new.” Heaven is described as a place where everything is new and fresh again, and the former things have passed away. We also see that it’s described like a bride adorned for her husband, so heaven is a place of beauty and joy as well.  It has to be a place of joy, since there is no more mourning, crying nor pain.
  2. We should long for heaven not only because it is a place of joy, but because it is there that God will be with us; He will dwell with us forever. It is because God is in heaven that we should long to be there.
  3. Personal reflection question.

EVENING REFLECTION

Think about your day today, and consider what was most important to you. Were you seeking satisfaction and contentment from earthly things, or were you seeking and longing for your eternal home in heaven with God?  Whatever your answer is, take some time to reflect on heaven, and what an eternity with our God will be like.