Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
Mk. 4:16-7 (NIV): “Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.”
I got to know Bruno when we were part of a short-term mission trip, but around the time his mother was diagnosed with cancer, he stopped coming to church. Tran, a Vietnamese student in the Bible institute I was teaching, was absent on my fourth visit to Vietnam, so when I asked around, he apparently left the church because of trouble (misunderstanding) with the pastor.
These examples point to a “shallow faith” (i.e., seed sown on rocky places) in which the initial joy of hearing God’s word (the gospel) is short-lived because of trouble or persecution. Typically, having no root refers to Christians who lack knowledge of God’s word, resulting in their faith being destroyed (Hos. 4:6). This doesn’t necessarily mean having no biblical knowledge; rather, whatever knowledge they had was incorrect, therefore, their faith was utterly helpless to withstand trouble or persecution. It is as if they were caught by surprise because they didn’t know or no one taught them that “in this world you will have trouble” (Jn. 16:33); or even if you are a Christian, “It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” (Phil. 1:29).
At the root of our faith, what’s crucial is not so much the extent of biblical knowledge but whether we know correctly the crux of God’s will revealed in the Scripture. For instance, some know by heart numerous verses that allegedly back the health and wealth gospel. One prosperity teacher declared, “If I walk justly and according to the Word of God, I am completely convinced that I can be free of sickness and pain.” Another declared, “God’s top priority is to shower blessings on Christians in this lifetime.” But when a loved one gets really sick, or you are barely making ends meet despite giving generously, the very teaching that appeared so promising becomes a stumbling block; you may fall as a result.
So, know your Bible correctly; don’t have false assumptions about the Christian faith that will greatly disappoint you one day; heed the “whole will of God” (Acts 20:27).
Keep me safe, O God, as You ground me in your Word; may I be like a tree planted by streams of water through the Word. Lord, grant me wisdom so that every time I read your Scripture, my mind would be illuminated by the eternal truth of Your Word, for your Word is truth. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 18
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Tim. 3:12 (NIV): “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
Jn. 15:18 (NIV): “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”
1 Jn. 2:15 (NIV): “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”
Question to Consider
- What should Christians expect especially when they are sincere about upholding their faith through their confession and deeds?
- Why are Christians destined for trouble and hatred from the world?
- No one should seek trouble or persecution but if you really uphold your faith at work or school, what kind of trouble or persecution can you reasonably expect?
- The fact is, many Christian beliefs (e.g., exclusivity of Christ for salvation, intelligent design) and practices (e.g., waiting until the wedding day for sexual relations) are seen as outside of mainstream. So when we express these and other views in a public setting, you are bound to be criticized.
- In short, to love God is not to love the world; since Jesus was hated by the world, his followers should not be surprised if the world does not love them either.
- We should be prudent and not overly aggressive in disagreeing with those who espouse anti-Christian views, but it behoove s us to “always be ready to given an answer to everyone who asks [us] to give the reason for the hope [we] have” (1 Pet. 3:15).
Looking back, did you encounter any trouble or persecution because of your Christian belief? How did you fare? What does that tell you about your readiness? Pray about how you can be better prepared.