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
When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.
1 Corinthians 1:26
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
This past December, I got to see an NBA game between San Antonio Spurs, a five-time champion, and Philadelphia 76ers, the league’s worst. Predictably, the game got of control fast and the Spurs won by 51 points!
Upon examining each roster, Jesus’ disciples would be more like the overmatched 76ers than the Spurs. It is said that, besides a handful of Philadelphia players with raw potential, the rest don’t belong in the league. And that’s who the disciples were. Being described by their detractors as “unschooled [and] ordinary” (Acts 4:5, 13) was merely scratching the surface. The disciples were initially divided not only from the rest of society but even among themselves. Simon belonged to a militant group called Zealots who violently opposed the Romans and those who worked for them, like tax collectors, among whom Matthew was one. The disciples’ favorite pastime was arguing about “who was the greatest” (Mk. 9:34); once, John and James sought to kill an inhospitable Samaritan (Lk. 9:51-5).
Let’s suppose that you’re assembling a roster to begin a new company. Would you start with these men? Are you crazy? No! Instead, you would recruit kinder, humbler and more educated people; but Jesus, purposely avoiding them, chose just the opposite for his institution aimed at changing the world.
Now, for the past three years Philadelphia 76ers purposely gathered its outmatched players to lose; but there is method to their madness. Being the worst team in the league increases their chance to pick the best player in the upcoming draft of college players. And there was also method in the “madness” of Jesus in selecting his men. To that end Paul wrote, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things to nullify the things that are not, 29 so that no one may boast before him” (1 Cor. 1:27-9).
This criterion is both encouraging and sobering because this means that God can use the “unschooled and ordinary” but it also means that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously since God is the one who does all the heavy lifting. Cheer up—God can use you: work hard (Col. 1:29), stay humble and be faithful.
Father, I confess my willful forgetfulness: now that I am better, thanks to your provision, I am deluded into thinking think that I wasn’t all that bad when You saved me. No, I wasn’t okay then and I won’t be okay the moment I fall into this self-deception. Lord, I cannot do anything apart from you (Jn. 15:5). I absolutely and completely depend on You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 6
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Cor. 1:26: Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
1 Cor. 6:9-11: Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were.
1 Cor. 4:7-8: For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!
Question to Consider
- Apostle Paul referred to the Corinthians as not having been wise, influential or of noble birth. What were they like before God saved them?
- It is important to note in what tone Paul was writing what he wrote in 1 Cor. 4:7-8. It is decisively a sarcastic tone: “Already you have become rich and begun to reign.” What happened to these once hapless Corinthians? What was worrying Paul?
- So, why is Paul writing all this? What do we need to watch out for as we become wiser, stronger and wealthier?
- The key phrase is 1 Cor. 6:11, “And that is what some of you were”, meaning many of the Corinthians used to be thieves, drunkards and sexually immoral.
- Evidently, these Corinthians were forgetting their former, miserable state before God saved them and were acting “cool” as if they were always wise, strong and influential. Alarmed, Paul was reminding them what it was really like from the outset—“Not many of you were . . . “
- He wrote this before their spiritual amnesia turns into a full-blown spiritual pride, which would bring about their fall (Prov. 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall) as well as God’s discipline (1 Pet. 5:5: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”).
Looking back to all that happened today, did you face a situation where you ended up embellishing your accomplishment and/or pedigree? If so, why did you give in to that? Take a moment and ask the Lord how he can help you with this weakness that makes you feel even less secure the next day.
“‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Cor. 10:17-8).