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 (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.
Rom. 8:33-4 (NIV): “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
In the 1980’s, no Christian song touched me like “When God Ran” (Benny Hester). The powerful lyrics were sung passionately: “The only time I ever saw Him run, was when He ran to me, took me in His arms, held my head to His chest. . . Looked in my face, wiped the tears from my eyes, with forgiveness in His voice he said son, do you know I still love you.”
Then in the 1990’s, an article (Kenneth E. Bailey) about the cultural significance of the “running father” jolted me. According to the Jerusalem Talmud, during the time of Jesus, a ceremony called “Qetsatsah” was given to young Jews who lost their family inheritance to the Gentiles. The villagers “would bring a large earthenware jar, filled it with burned nuts and burned corn, and break it in front of the guilty individual while shouting, ‘So-and-so is cut off from his people’. . . . Th[is] . . . shun appears to have been a total ban on any contact with the violator of the village code of honor.”
So, why did the father run? He “realizes full well how his son will be welcomed in the village when he returns in failure. Thus, the father also prepares a plan to reach the boy before the boy reaches the village. The father knows that if he is able to achieve reconciliation with his son in public,” no one would dare perform the Quesatsah ceremony. The father, in effect, was declaring, “I’ve forgiven my son, therefore, I won’t condemn him.” Paul says it like this: “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. . . . Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
Mull on the running God, represented by an elderly Middle-Eastern father wearing a long cloak, who, in order to run, had to lift up the hem with his hands, thereby showing his bare legs—another act of humiliation to keep the son from being condemned. And that’s what Jesus did for us by taking our place, humiliated and condemned to the cross, so that we may have life. Share this good news with someone today.
Oh Lord, I lift up Your holy name on high above all things in my life. You are the supreme Ruler and King of my life. How stunning it is to realize that You would run after me, even though I have said and done so many things to betray and deny You. No words are apt to capture my gratitude. Thank you. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 9
Lunch Break Study
Read Col. 2:13 (NIV): “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
Rev. 12:10 (NIV): “For the accuser* of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night….” *Satan
Gal. 5:1 (NIV): “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Question to Consider
- On what basis does the enemy (Satan) condemn and accuse us?
- In what manner was this condemnation taken away from us?
- If we truly understand and believe what was accomplished in Jesus for us, how should we live?
- “The charge of legal indebtedness” refers to all the laws of God that we have violated, which the devil (as if he were a prosecutor) uses to accuse and condemn us before God the Judge.
- God, as the law-giver, simply cannot forgive the violators as if they hadn’t done anything. Someone with a clean record (i.e., one who cannot be accused by the devil) must take the rap, which is what Christ did when he assumed the charge on our behalf by allowing himself to be nailed on the cross.
- We are now in a position to live in freedom. Other spiritual measures, such as discipleship, fellowship and inner-healing (for some), are also needed to make freedom an everyday reality, but it all starts with knowing that we’ve been set free through Christ’s victory over sin, death and devil.
In looking back to today, was there a moment when you tangibly sensed God’s awesome love for you? Maybe it was an accident that you avoided, or an embarrassing situation that didn’t happen. Look for God in small things in the context of everyday life. Offer up a prayer of thanksgiving.