February 28, Friday

Today’s devotional, prepared by Pastor Jason Sato, was originally posted on April 22, 2014.  He and his wife Jessica (along with their three young children) recently moved

 

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“The Crux of the Message of the Cross”

Galatians 5:7-12 (ESV) 

“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!”

At first glance, it may be difficult to understand why someone would reject a free gift of grace for a demanding law of works. Would you rather win the lottery or work sixty hours a week for forty years? Most of us would probably choose the lottery. 

Yet, somehow, the Galatians, who “were running well” (v.7), are now greatly tempted to abandon Paul’s teaching and embrace circumcision. This error is attractive enough that it could “leaven the whole lump,” or corrupt the entire Galatian Church. It does not come from God (v. 8) and deserves punishment (v. 10), yet the Apostle Paul is persecuted for opposing it.  In fact, this issue behind circumcision is at the very center of what makes the cross offensive (v. 11). So why is the cross so offensive?  

The message of the cross is that the Son of God had to die in order to save helpless sinners from themselves. The cross is offensive because it destroys our pride and self-reliance. We’re forced to acknowledge both our wickedness and our complete inability to do anything about it; and to admit that we are utterly at the mercy of God.

So when the message of circumcision comes to the Galatian Church, this way of earning acceptance before God appeals to their pride. Though painful, circumcision provides the Galatians with a means by which they can boast before God and one another. If one became so bold, he might even demand his rights before God, saying, “I’m circumcised, therefore you HAVE to bless me!” 

If salvation is by grace alone, then we cannot boast, and we certainly cannot demand anything from God. We can only be thankful and worship him. Take a moment to pray that your obedience to God today would be motivated by a desire to honor and know Him, rather than to get something from Him.

Prayer: Father, I thank You that Your love is freely given to me, though I deserve the opposite. I am blessed that You don’t treat me fairly or as I deserve, but You give me abundant grace! Lord, may I rejoice always in grace rather than my own goodness that You might be exalted in my life and not me.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 28


Lunch Break Study  

Read Luke 18:9-14 (ESV): “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. Looking at the prayer of the Pharisee in the parable, how do we exalt ourselves?
  2. Looking at the prayer of the tax collector in the parable, how do we humble ourselves?
  3. Who is the Pharisee aware of in his prayer?  Who is the tax collector aware of in his prayer?

Notes

  1. We exalt ourselves by comparing ourselves favorably over others and boasting in our good works.
  2. We humble ourselves by acknowledging our failures and our need for mercy.
  3. The Pharisee is very aware of himself as well as those he others who he is better than. The tax collector is aware of the One True and Holy God.

Evening Reflection

Reflect on your day. Were you tempted to believe that God was being unfair to you? What can you thank God for?

February 27, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“It’s Objective—then Personal”

1 John 5:6-12 (ESV)

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

The world tells us that all matters of religion are subjective, that your personal relationship with God is based solely on your opinions and feelings.  The Scriptures, on the other hand, tells us that our relationship with God is based on our experience of objective truth. Most people would admit to the fact that Jesus was an actual historical figure, and that the beginning of his ministry was marked by his baptism in water.   In addition, a large number of people would even confess to the fact that Jesus concluded his ministry on the cross, through the shedding of his blood for our sins. However, mental assent to these facts is not enough. The water and the blood are symbolic of the two bookends of Jesus’ earthly ministry, but unless the Spirit testifies along with the water and the blood, we only have powerless doctrine.  But when all three testify, we receive the power of the Gospel.  

One of the primary functions of the Holy Spirit is to bring the testimony of God into the hearts and minds of men, and to convict us of our need to trust in His Son.  This is not simply an emotional experience but also an encounter with the truth. The battle for your soul is engaged primarily in the mind. One of my old seminary professors, Neil Anderson, wrote that the center for all spiritual bondage has its roots in the mind: Wrong behavior comes through wrong thoughts.    I am convinced that the reason why we see so little lasting transformation in the church is because we simply don’t have enough truth to bring this change about. After all, it was Jesus who declared, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:32). But when we rely on our feelings and emotions, while this certainly can make us feel better for a time, we will soon revert back to our old patterns of life.  Unless our minds are renewed by God’s truth and our hearts are touched by the Spirit of the truth constantly, we leave ourselves vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. Read and study the Word, not to accumulate more knowledge but to correct yourself as if seeing your reflection on a mirror. Pray unhurriedly and ask God to show you why you say and do the things that hurt you and others.     

Prayer: Holy Spirit, we pray that you would fill us with the truth.  Help us to live lives of conviction, based not just on our emotions and experiences, but grounded on the objective reality of the Gospel.  May your testimony find deep roots within our minds and hearts. Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 27


Lunch Break Study  

Read John 4:19-26: “ The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What was faulty in the Samaritan’s worship?  
  2. What are the barriers to authentic worship?
  3. How can we rediscover authentic worship?  

Notes

  1. The Samaritans had rejected much of the Old Testament except for the books of Moses; therefore, they had an incomplete view of God and the coming Messiah.       
  2. Some of the artificial barriers that we erect against true worship are centered in things like style, setting, and separation by culture and nuanced theological differences.  
  3. We can see that Jesus diverts the woman’s attention from these inconsequential differences and speaks to her about the nature and the substance of worship.  In order to rediscover authentic worship, we need to get down to the spirit and the truth of what worship is.  

Evening Reflection

Spend some time worshipping God by listening to some praise music or spending time in prayer.  Write down anything you hear, feel, or have an impression of during your time with God.

February 26, Wednesday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on November 12, 2014, is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, who has served as a staff at several AMI churches in the past.  He and his wife Mandie have four adorable children: Simon, Maggie, Jonathan and Abigail. 

 

Devotional Thoughts for this Morning

Proverbs 6:1-5

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, 2 if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, 3 then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor. 4 Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber;5 save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler.  

In the 1995 film Heat, Robert DeNiro, playing a bank robber, tries to live by one guiding principle: Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”  As a felon, one could see how such a philosophy would be helpful: if you have to flee from the police, it behooves you to not have to go back for a family, house, dog, etc.  Of course, in the movie, DeNiro is undone because he betrays his life principle, and ultimately his relationships (girl and loyalty/desire for revenge) lead to his downfall. (By the way, don’t watch Heat, it’s kind of slow and violent.)  

In many ways, I see debt as that thing that regular honest people cannot “walk out on in 30 seconds flat.”  For example, when I was doing college ministry, countless number of people have told me that they felt called to go overseas and serve in missions.  But since they were students and had to pay off student loans, they worked after college. Yet after working for a few years, the Parable of the Sower kicked in, where many were “choked by the cares of this world and the deceit of wealth” (Matt. 13:22).  Payments on cars, homes, credit card debt bills and other financial obligations won out, while the dream of missions never materialized. (I still hope and pray that these guys will make it out some day.)  

In today’s passage, the writer of Proverbs warns against debt (technically co-signing) and likens it to being trapped by a “hunter.”  Anyone who has been in heavy debt will tell you that this is an accurate description of what it feels like. Have you ever thought that your financial responsibility can make or break the way God uses you?  There is a reason why Christian financial advisors warn against debt. If God were to tell you to get up and go, would be you be prepared financially to obey? If the answer is no, then understand that financial freedom (in Christ) does not often happen overnight.  Although it takes years of disciplined decisions, the process could start today.  

Prayer: Dear God, help me to be a faithful steward of all that You have given me.  Help me to “leave no debt outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another” (Rom. 13:8) but to make wise and disciplined choices starting now.  

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 26


Lunch Break Study

Read Matt. 13:1-9; 18-22: That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.” 18 “Here then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What do the seeds represent? 
  2. What do the differing types of soil represent?
  3. Personally, which of these “soils” best represent you and your life?  

Notes

  1. Although the common interpretation is that the seed represents the gospel message, it can still be applicable to the believing Christian, because any Christian can hear God’s word/calling and fall into these circumstances. 
  2. The seed on the path are those who are easily plucked by Satan; rocky soil is a person with a poor foundation; thorn filled soil is one who has a lot of worries in life and loves riches and is endangered of being choked; and the good soil is a receptive heart yielding an abundant harvest.   
  3. Personal response. 

Evening Reflection

Did you have a chance to eliminate some thorns today, particularly in your financial decisions?  Is there a debt that you need to pay off? Is there some other word that has hit you lately that needs to fall on good soil?  Were you able to move toward that goal today?

February 25, Tuesday

Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Barry Kang of Symphony Church in Boston, was originally posted on March 13, 2014.

 

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“Cheap Grace No More”

1 John 3:7-10 (ESV)

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 

In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic work, The Cost of Discipleship, he writes: 

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” 

As children of God, we are not to walk the broad and easy path of cheap grace, but the narrow and costly path of denying ourselves and following Jesus.  This does not mean that we need to be perfect (1 John 1:8: “If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not within us”), but that we renounce the path or “practice” of living for ourselves.  We may stumble, but we get up (Prov. 24:16) by God’s grace and keep pursuing after Jesus. As children of God, we can do no less.  

Let us not take God’s grace for granted.  I see too many Christians being comfortable with sin because they rationalize it with a thought like, “we are not perfect, just forgiven” or “so-and-so is worse.”  Instead of justifying our sin, I pray that we would trust in God’s justification of the sinner. Is there unrepented sin in your life? Confess it and lay it before God.  Ask for God’s grace to bring you out of the practice of that sin.

Prayer: Father, please forgive me for the ways that I often take your grace for granted. May your grace overwhelm my heart and my life. Help me to walk in your righteousness.  In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 25


Lunch Break Study

Reed James 1:19-21 (NIV): My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Questions to Consider

  1. In regard to speaking and listening, what does James expect the believers to do? 
  2. How does James characterize the moral filth and the evil in our lives?
  3. How can believers deal with the anger, the moral filth, and the evil that we wrestle with?

Note

  1. James says to master the art of listening quickly while speaking slowly. He also writes that believers ought to be slow to become angry.
  2. Unfortunately, James notes that this moral filth and the evil in us is apparently prevalent. 
  3. Rather than angrily blaming God for our temptation and sin, and thus forfeiting the good he is trying to accomplish in us through the trial, we should instead remove the evil that caused the temptation, and return to the wisdom of His Word which can take us safely through the trial.

Evening Reflection

Prepare tonight for the Lord’s Day. Reflect on the blood of Jesus Christ which allows us to meet God’s presence and worship Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I ask that you help me to practice the art of listening quickly while being slow to speak words of complaint, judgment, and criticism. Help me to accept your word that fortifies me in my trials. Amen.

February 24, Monday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional (new) is written by Napa, a local staff serving at an AMI church in E. Asia

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Continue in God’s Grace”

Acts 13:42-52

As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath.43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'”48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

How can you be a person who is full of joy? What is the secret? Is it through having untold riches or leading a colorful life? For many of us, we do not lack material things. Some would say that we have more choices and freedom compared to the past; yet, despite of these favorable changes in society, depression has become rampant in our cities

In today’s Scripture, we see a group of people who have experienced unexpected joy in difficult circumstances. When Paul and Barnabas arrived in Antioch, they preached the gospel in the local synagogue. The result was surprisingly good. Scriptures say, “Almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.” However, Barnabas and Paul’s success made some Jews extremely jealous; as a result, they began to attack and slander them. In addition, verse 50 says that the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city against Paul and Barnabas; as a result, many wealthy people in Antioch rejected the gospel. 

Can you imagine the challenge of being a Christian in the middle of this type of persecution? Yet, Paul and Barnabas were still “full of joy and full of the Holy Spirit”. How can this be?  When these Antiochians were interested in the gospel and willing to follow Paul and Barnabas, they taught them to “continue in the grace of God (v. 43).” I believe this was the secret to their joy. The Antioch Christians really understood the treasure they possessed: It was the grace of God which cannot be exchanged for wealth or fame.

This morning, God is also reminding us that if you feel a lack of joy in your life, you need to be reminded that you possess a treasure that surpasses wealth, fame, vacations, social media posts, and status. You possess eternal life!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, do not let me forget the amazing grace You have given me through Jesus Christ. Teach me to rely on Your grace in both trouble and prosperity. Let my heart be filled with joy through Your grace. In Jesus name we pray, Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 24


Lunch Break Study  

Read Romans 5:1-5: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Questions to Consider

  1. Verse 2 says that we have gained access, by faith, into this grace. What specifically does this grace mean? 
  2. What is the reason that we can rejoice in our sufferings according to Paul?
  3. Is there anything in your life that sucks up your joy? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you—to pour God’s love into your heart (v.5).

Notes

  1. This grace means that we have made peace with God through Jesus Christ. Jesus has restored our strained relationship with God, and, as a result, we have become the children of God
  2. We can rejoice in our sufferings because we know that our hope is in Jesus Christ. The promise and grace of God in Jesus Christ will never let us down.
  3. Personal Reflection

Evening Reflection

Paul reminds us to “continue in the grace of God, ” because we can forget God’s grace. Therefore, we need to constantly remind ourselves to return to it. Tonight, please take a moment to meditate on God’s grace and let it begin to affect the way we see things. Let’s not live with anxiety and fear, but with joy.

February 23, Sunday

Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, first posted on October 14, 2013, is written by Pastor Sam Lee who leads Catalyst Agape Church in Northern New Jersey.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Warning Signs”

Proverbs 4:23

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 

Automobiles have different signals to let you know if something is wrong. A couple of weeks ago, the brake warning light of my car came on and I took it to a local mechanic. I thank God for the warning light! The mechanic found that the pads needed to be changed, but not only that, he also found that the brake fluid was leaking. In addition, he also pointed out that my two front tires were dangerously worn out and was ready to give out any minute. Heeding to the brake warning light might have saved me, my family, and others from serious harm or tragedy. 

Likewise, our God has also equipped our heart with warning signals. Just as physical pain warns us that something might be wrong with our physical body, emotional pain warns us that something might be wrong with our heart. I want to encourage you not to ignore it, but “above all else, guard your heart.” If there is bitterness, let’s take active steps to forgive. If there are temptations, let’s resist and flee from them. If there is rebellion, let’s humble ourselves. If there are wrong beliefs and lies, let’s not conform to the pattern of this world, but renew our mind. Whatever we need to do, let’s guard the heart. 

Although there are many books out there giving us advice on successful living, the Bible says we need to work on our heart to be truly successful. If there are bad roots growing in our heart, there will be bad fruits. If there are good roots in our heart, there will be good fruits, “for everything you do flows from it.”  So, don’t wait—get to work! Go to the Lord right now and ask him to repair and restore you through his Word and Spirit. 

Prayer: Dear God, as a car gives out warning signals, what warning signs do I need to detect coming from my heart? Lord, give me a sense of urgency to get my heart right before You.  Help me to repent, right now! Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 23

February 22, Saturday

Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is an edited version of a QT blog that was first posted on August 30, 2013.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“What is Demonic? Making Handsome Profits at the Expense of Demon-Possessed People” 

Luke 8:26-39

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.  34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

There is one topic many Christians rather not talk about: demons.  Do they even exist? Harvard educated psychiatrist Scott Peck ruffled some feathers when he affirmed their existence in his 2005 books entitled, “Glimpse of the Devil.”

In our days, we distinguish between those who are demon-possessed and the demonized.   To the extent that such distinction is valid, the demonic manifestation of the former condition may be more obvious, like the man in this passage, than the latter, which may be more subtle.  But in both cases the evil spirit has one purpose in mind: “to destroy” the dignity of the one who has been created in God’s image (and destroy even animals).  

Now, human life is incomparably more important than animals, yet, we are often confused as to what is important in life: many value financial gains over the welfare of the people (v. 37).  Here, one likely reason the townspeople asked Jesus to leave was because they cared more about not losing additional animals than to help hurting people. The monetary loss was surely the reason certain men, who made “a great deal of money” through using their “slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future,” falsely accused Paul of doing wrong because the apostle had cast demons out of her (Acts 16:16-24).

Not much is different today, is it?  For the sake of monetary gain, we put up with a distorted system in which people are exposed and exploited.  Many in our society are like the herdsmen who think, “Why bother with this crazy man; as long as he is contained (being chained), that will allow us to focus on our (illegal) trade of raising pigs to sell the meat to the Jews.”  The owners of the slave girl never once thought about the latter’s welfare; instead of being happy for her—now that she was made well—they were infuriated that they could no longer use her to make more money. Evidently, not only can people be demonized but the society itself as well!  

Yet Jesus came to radically contradict and expose what we really value in life (v. 33).  When the fullness of the Spirit’s presence manifests, we can see what’s really important in life: it certainly is not financial gains, especially at the expense of people. So, when John says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 Jn. 3:8), he is referring to what Christ has done to undo what the devil has done to individuals as well as the society in which we live. 

What do you value?  Do you long to see the recovery and healing to take place in the lives of those who have been created in God’s image?  Or are people just a means to your financial gains?

Prayer: Lord, help me to rise above living according to “the pattern of this world” (Rom. 12:2).  Lord, give me the discernment to see what’s really going on in people’s lives and in our society.  Lord, use me as an instrument of recovery and healing instead of being devil’s pawn. Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 21-22