January 9, 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.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 1:9-11

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

9aMost evangelicals probably no longer care what Rob Bell has to say after he questioned the existence of hell in Love Wins (and later declaring, “Smile, there is no hell” ), but at one time he had their ears.  Calling evangelical theology, “Evacuation theology,” he said, “Figure out the ticket, say the right prayer, get the right formula, and then we’ll go somewhere else.”  That, he said, was “lethal to Jesus, who endlessly speaks of the renewal of all things.”

9bIn effect, Bell points out: “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good”. In a symbolic manner, this is exactly what the men of Galilee gathered at the Mt. Olive were doing: “Looking intently up into the sky as [Jesus] was going.”  You can hardly blame them for being glued to what was a spectacular scene, but they must have stared too long.  The angels were dispatched and after tapping their heads, they said, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky?”  Reading between the lines, you could almost hear the angels shout, “Stop staring and get to work.”

But that’s our default position though: we would rather be in a holy huddle and worship God (“looking up into the sky”) among ourselves rather than “to offer our bodies as living sacrifices,” which Paul refers to as a “spiritual act of worship” (Rom. 12:1).   When Peter encountered an otherworldly experience on a high mountaintop in which he saw Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah, he said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.  Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Mk. 9:5).  Of course, it was good to be up there, but in the meantime, all hell broke loose at the foot of the mountain.  A father would later tell Jesus, “My son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. . . . He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid” (9:18).  Perhaps, Peter momentarily forgot the true condition of men, but Jesus, “who knew all men” (Jn. 2:24), dismounted and restored the boy back to his father.

Paul says, “Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2).  And if we really live in accordance to this teaching, being heavenly minded will stir us to be more earthly good.   We must always begin with the vertical (God’s relationship with man) and then express it horizontally (our relationship with our fellow man).  Apostle John says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them (horizontal), how can the love of God (vertical) be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 Jn. 3:17-8).  Remember this throughout 2016.

Prayer

Our magnificent God, how wonderful is it to be in your presence.  That is why I “look up” to worship You and to contemplate your greatness.  But today, I’m reminded also to look around to notice those who are too weak to look up.  May I encourage them with the Gospel and my own actions.  May I not just say this but actually do it!  O Spirit, empower me.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 2-3

 

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