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
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said. . . .
Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
When I told my father, who was not even a churchgoer at the time, of my desire to enter the ministry, he was relieved, hoping that perhaps my partying days were over. On the other hand, the parents of my seminary roommate “Daniel,” who were good Christians by all accounts, weren’t happy when their MIT-attending son, whom they hoped would become a physician, told them the same. So to calm their displeasure, Daniel applied to several medical schools and prayed that none would accept him; God obliged, and that’s how he ended up in seminary.
Family disapproval on account of faith is something Jesus knew well during his time on earth. Jesus’ siblings thought that their carpenter brother had become crazy when he traded in his tool bag for sturdy sandals to begin the life as a wandering preacher. And when their brother started passing himself off as “the Son of God” (Mk. 3:11), the entire family intervened (“take charge of him”), probably to stave off further family embarrassment. Later, when Jesus had a following of people mesmerized by His teaching and miracles, “Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘Leave Galilee and go to Judea. . . No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. . . . [S]how yourself to the world” (Jn. 7:3-4). Why were they so mean to him? John said, “For even his own brothers did not believe in him” (v. 5).
But these brothers, a few days removed from seeing Jesus ascend to heaven, were among the 120 who had gathered to pray in obedience to what He told them: “Wait for the gift my Father promised” (Acts 1:4). The reason for their turnaround? They saw the risen Lord, the One whom they knew had died. And they not only believed, but they would enter into ministry. Both James and Judas penned letters that were later included in the New Testament.
Daniel’s parents eventually came to support their son. In fact, they themselves became missionaries in later years. Fellow parents, remember that our children aren’t really ours. Pray that when they come of age, they will heed God’s will and not ours, so that they would go beyond desiring the things of this world, to desiring the things of God. Begin praying like that.
God, it’s beyond belief to realize that I’ve been adopted into Your family through Christ. Of course, that doesn’t mean that my earthly family isn’t important. I pray for those in my family who still don’t know You. Embolden me to share the gospel so that they may believe in Christ for eternal life. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 7
Lunch Break Study
Read Mark 3:32-5: A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” 33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jn. 19:25: Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
1 Tim. 5:8: Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Question to Consider
- Once we follow Christ after believing in Him, who becomes our new family?
- Does that relieve us from obligations to our earthly family?
- So, in effect, we are pulled in two opposite directions. Are you experiencing this tension right now?
- Jesus introduced a radical concept: our new family consists of fellow brothers and sister in Christ who seek to do God’s will in their lives. Several AMI churches call their small groups, “Family Group”; that’s very biblical.
- The fact that Jesus ensured that his earthly mother was cared for—asking John to do so—shows that we are not relieved from our family responsibilities. To neglect it is to be worse than an unbeliever.
- You have to figure out how to do both instead of favoring one against the other. For instance, when I had to be away from home due to ministry, particularly during the time of much violence in Mexico, I took measures to secure our house (many locks and chains, and much prayer). Another example of doing both is to invite lonesome people into our homes to celebrate Thanksgiving together with our own families.
For many of us, our unbelieving family members have been in that condition for such a long time that we’ve grown numb to it; some of us have even ceased praying for them. If you are like that, then why don’t you restart praying for them tonight? Remember, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).