Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Times for January and February are provided by P. Ryun Chang, Teaching and Resource Pastor of AMI.
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
Luke 15:20-4 (NIV): So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
What was the younger son thinking when it became evident that the blurry object from afar running towards him was his father? Perhaps, the son was assuming that the father was still fuming with anger, and even might have appeared to be so; his eyes might’ve been closed and his teeth clenched as the father lunged forward. But instead of a blow, the son was warmly embraced with a kiss, and given a hero’s welcome: a robe and ring of the highest quality, fancy footwear, and a party where nothing was spared. The stunned son was speechless; it was so unexpected. The words out of his mouth, initially part of a soliloquy to impress his father, now came out of the heart: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” The father’s grace had deeply moved him.
Many years ago, I used to exchange long e-mails with this seminarian, discussing many theological matters, including the order of salvation. Being a Calvinist who firmly upheld the doctrine of depravity of man (i.e., the corrupt man is unable to contribute anything to his salvation), he insisted that regeneration precedes faith because sinful humans, who are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:5), are unable to respond to the gospel on their own; thus, God must first make them spiritually alive so that they could believe. I used to tell him, “Don’t make science out of salvation; all aspects of salvation—regeneration, faith, repentance, justification—happen simultaneously.” Now a seminary professor, he wrote me recently, saying, “I believe that regeneration and faith occur at the same time.”
However, one thing does precede everything else, and that’s what the younger son received from a father who not only forgave him, but gave him gifts that he didn’t deserve. This is called “grace,” of which Paul states, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).
Not every day can be great, right? So, if today doesn’t go your way, remember that you’ve been tremendously blessed because the gift of salvation that was graciously given to you by God. Share that good news with someone today.
My Lord and my God, how I love and praise You this morning. All the glory and honor belong to You, especially in light of your amazing grace that no words can aptly capture. I am just thankful that your grace was more than sufficient to melt my crusty heart. Thank you. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 8
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Sam. 30:3, 8-10, 18-24 (NIV): “When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive . . .  and David inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?’ ‘Pursue them,’ he answered. ‘You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.’  David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind.  Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit. . . .  David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives.  Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back.  He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock. . . .  Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were.  But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, ‘Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.’  David replied, ‘No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us.  . . . The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.’”
Question to Consider
- How would you describe the action taken by the two hundred men who quit the dangerous mission of rescuing their families? Do the four hundred men have the right to be upset at them?
- How would you differentiate the response by David and some of the four hundred men? Note: The two hundred didn’t have many supplies to guard since the Amalekites had taken everything.
- In what sense do David in this historical narrative and the father in the parable typify Jesus Christ? What is one thing that you can do today that would reflect that attitude/spirit of Christ?
- The two hundred men were totally irresponsible, callous and selfish (like the son in the parable). In effect, they were saying to the four hundred, “Risk your life to save my families while I get my tan.” Of course, the four hundred men had a legitimate beef with them.
- On the one hand, the four hundred men treated the two hundred according to what they deserved: why should they get a portion of the plunder when they didn’t lift a finger to help out? On the other hand, David was being gracious with them, equally sharing the plunder with those who clearly didn’t deserve it. “Staying with the supplies” was said in “love” because that wasn’t really true.
- David and the father typify the ministry of Christ in which he would die for an undeserving people to give them what they could never merit or earn. They beautifully capture the grace of God—a great favor imparted to those who least deserve it. Look for someone to do the same today.
Did you experience today God’s grace through someone who embodied it? Were you able grace someone with special favors? As you reflect on God’s grace, pray about gracing someone tomorrow.