January 2, Saturday

The AMI QT devotionals from Jan. 1-15 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (Ph.D.) who is the AMI Teaching Pastor.  He and Insil have been married for 28+ years and they have three children: Christy (teacher), Joshua (grad student) and Justin (college freshman).  They live in Philadelphia.

Editor’s Note: 

  • First, the AMI devotions over the next several months will be on Acts.
  • Second, this year we are sharing a little bit more about our writers.
  • Third, the AMI QT blog, consisting of five parts, is not short, but each section is there for a reason. But if it feels too much, then read just the morning devotional and prayer.  Also, note that you can arrange 2 or 3 related lunch break studies and use it to lead a small Bible study at work or school.   The QT files can be sent to you on demand (Cryun2@yahoo.com).

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Luke 1:3-4b

With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Acts 1:1

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach…

2Certainly when religion is done wrong, Karl Marx is absolutely correct in saying that “religion is the opium of the masses.”  Marx’s premise, of course, is that people in power manipulate religion to keep the people in line, so that the structure continues to sustain their advantage while the masses hold out for the pie in the sky.  Thus, the flow of religion goes downward from the top.  But that’s not how God designed it.

Theophilus, meaning, “One who loves God,” was likely “a high official in the Roman government” (Barclay); he, as a man of wealth, “was possibly Luke’s patron” (NIVSB, p. 1532) who saw to it that his writing was completed.

Now, it was asserted yesterday that Luke might have been a slave.  While no biblical text actually says so, “the ‘doctors’ in ancient Rome were not nearly as highly regarded as the doctors in Greece. The profession itself, outside of the legions, was considered a low social position, fit for slaves.”[1]  Even if Luke wasn’t a slave, his socioeconomic status was such that he needed a wealthy sponsor in order to focus on his writing.  And he found such an individual in Theophilus, a wealthy and powerful man, who, despite having already learned the story and teachings of Jesus, wanted to make sure that he had it right.  While it is likely that Theophilus had it in his mind to make copies of the book and later distribute them to others, Luke left no doubt as to whom the book was for: Theophilus (“an orderly account for you . . .  so that you may know”).

2bContrary to Marx’s assertion, then, the flow of religion goes upward from the bottom.  1 Cor. 1:27 reads, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”  No example better illustrates this truth than Daniel, a Jew exiled in Babylonia, whose bold testimony moved the hearts of King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:34-5) and King Darius (6:25-7); ironically, the political conquerors became spiritually conquered.

So, don’t be afraid to share your faith with the rich and the intellectuals; inasmuch as Theophilus was hungry for spiritual truth, many of them still are.  “Celsus, a great opponent of the faith (of the 2nd century) . . . mentions how even Christians with little or no education seized opportunity to witness to people, and when confronted by educated pagans they still would not stop pushing their opinions” (Neill).  While attending UCLA graduate school, I judiciously shared my faith with the professors.  While none of them told me to get lost, there is one drawback: I had to keep my grade up so as to not lose my credibility!  At any rate, make 2016 a year in which you share the gospel with more people than you ever have.

Prayer

Father, I exalt You this morning.  I admit that in the midst of pouting about all the things I don’t have, I constantly forget what I do from you.  Convict me to use what I have to do good and mission-minded work in your Son’s name so that unbelieving co-workers and neighbors may thirst for Christ.  Amen.

[1] UNRV History: Roman Empire.  Retrieved December 11, 2015, from http://www.unrv.com/culture/ancient-roman-doctors.php

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Peter 2-3

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