January 8, Friday

Editor’s Note: 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.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 1:8 (a.k.a., The Great Commission according to Luke)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Matt. 28:19-20 (a.k.a., The Great Commission according to Matthew)

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. . . .”

8A recent Mexican Coca-Cola ad produced a storm of controversy because of its insensitivity toward indigenous people.  The commercial begins with sad natives “mop[ing] around a hillside feeling rejected by society.  Then a group of young white hipsters turn up to save them, with the aid of coolers full of Coke and a Christmas tree. . . . The indigenous people can only smile in wondering gratitude.”[1]  Having seen it myself (and laughing), the brain behind this ad is probably looking for a new job.

But at least tip your hat to Coca-Cola for executing its version of the “Great Commission” better than the church.  Having served in Mexico as a missionary for over a decade, I visited these hillside villages located in steep mountains, and you can be sure that Coca-Cola got there, more often than not, even before missionaries.

Across the board, American churches pay great lip service to missions but do little themselves about it.  If our priority is revealed by the saying, “Put your money where your mouth is,” we haven’t done much.   One statistic shows such a discrepancy: “On the average, for every dollar that gets put into the offering plate in the U. S., 96 cents go right back to the American Christian culture. . . . [T]he remaining 4 cents [is] for the Great Commission task” (Bob Sjogren).

So, before blasting Coca-Cola for its condescending message of “Stop worrying; the gringos are here,” we should take a page out of its playbook and take our “product” (the gospel) “to the ends of the earth.”  And we have nothing to be ashamed of; while cola, full of sugar, isn’t good for health, the “living water” (Jn. 4:11) that Christ gives comes with this guarantee: “Everyone who drinks this water (i.e., any pleasurable thing that the world offers) will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.”

In 2016, will you be more active in sharing your faith?  Pray for boldness; read a book on evangelism; build relationships and look for a good time to illustrate the superiority of the living water over its cheap substitutes.

Prayer

Forgive me, Father, for domesticating You as a territorial God who is only concerned with people who look like me.  God, because You sent your Son to redeem all the nations, help me to engage in missions with the right concept and motivation.  May I be compelled by the same love You have for every tribe, language and people and nation.   Amen.

[1] Retrieved December 12, 2015, from http://www.aljazeera.com.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 1

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Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 67:1-2: May God (Elohiym) be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—2 so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.

Numbers 6:23-6:  Tell Aaron and his sons, “This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 24 ‘The Lord (Jehovah) bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace,’”

Rev. 5:9: And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Rev. 7:9-10: After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

Question to Consider

  1. Evidently, in Ps. 67:1-2 King David reiterates the Aaronic blessing found in Num. 6:23-6 but makes, under the Spirit’s inspiration, one change. What is it?
  2. In light of Rev. 5:9, what does it mean that David changed the name of God in Ps. 67?
  3. Ultimately, what does God desire to see in heaven? Should that be important to us? Is that important to you?

Notes

  1. David changed the name of God from Jehovah, a personal name used by the Israelites to refer to Yahweh, to Elohiym, a name used when the focus is on the relationship between God and all nations.
  2. David is broadening the scope of God’s redemptive plan, that is, God’s blessing is not only for Israel but for the nations; and in time, Christ would come to die for people “from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
  3. God desires that the representatives from “every nation, tribe, people and language” worship Him as well as the Lamb, that is, Christ. Since Jesus purchased with his blood men from each tribe and nation, God rightfully expects them to participate in the great heavenly worship.  And this should be important to us, which means we need to figure out how to join in the effort to redeem the nations.

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Evening Reflection

We hardly need to leave America to do transcultural ministry (a.k.a., missions) since so many foreigners are in our universities and workplaces.  If we are comfortable with socializing with people like us, then think about all the people around you who aren’t. Reach out to them, beginning with saying hello and then going from there, all in the spirit of Acts 1:8.  This should be a serious priority!  Reach out to people of different race and class.

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