January 20, Wednesday

Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from Jan. 18-22 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 2:1-4a

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit . . .

Ps. 130:5

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

20Surely, no likes to wait in line—especially for a long time. However, if we want something bad enough, we’re willing to put up with a sleepless night, shiver in the cold, and wait in order to get that thing—in my case (1980), it was to purchase a ticket to the Bruce Springsteen concert.  But it was pure elation once I had the ticket in my pocket, even though it cost me a night’s sleep.

This day of Pentecost was awesome, for it was the first time in history that the Holy Spirit came into the human heart to take residence there (2 Cor. 1:22).  And there were 120 people (Acts 1:14) who experienced this—yet, there should’ve been 380 people more.   How?

Jesus ascended to heaven after he had “appeared to [people] over a period of forty days” (1:4), and the largest crowd to see Christ alive had to be the ones who had gathered at the Mt. of Olives (1:12) to witness His ascension.  Paul seems to allude to this occasion in 1 Corinthians 15:6:  “After that, [Christ] appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time.” And they all heard the same thing from Christ:  “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait. . . In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4, 5).

And immediately the war of attrition began:  While everyone liked the notion of being baptized with the Spirit, not everyone was willing to wait for it.  Those who would’ve waited had Jesus said that it would happen in an hour, didn’t, because they didn’t want it bad enough.  No one knew that the wait would last ten days, but by the time the Holy Spirit came, as many as 380 witnesses of Christ’s resurrection had left the prayer meeting.  Just imagine those who left hours before—ouch!

We say we want God but we aren’t willing to wait for His time.  That means we’re either fibbing or didn’t prepare ourselves beforehand.  Let’s make this practical: you say you want to really experience God this year, but are you determined to wait in prayer?  Or do you desire to experience God at the next retreat or conference?  Then, work around the clock beforehand to get all your work done so that you can go.  And once you are there, you don’t have to think about anything else except God.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I exalt Your glorious name; I thank You for your unlimited patience.   As I busily move about from one activity to the next, I often forget about You.  Help me to wait patiently before You so that I can hear Your directives for my life. Help me not to miss out on all that You have for me.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 15

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Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 14:16-20: Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.”

Ex. 34:14: Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Question to Consider

  1. What are some common excuses we use to justify putting God on the back burner?
  2. How would you summarize God’s response to that? What’s behind His reaction?
  3. Without thinking too hard, what is one thing that you need to take care of right now so that you can focus on getting closer to God and take on some of His kingdom work?

Notes

  1. In the parable, the two persons offered the same excuse: “I bought something for my business and now, I need to use them to make money.” Of course, they didn’t exactly say that, but instead, Jesus has them say something quite illogical for businessmen: Having bought the field and oxen, now they are about to go see them, presumably for the first time. Who does that?  The point is that they preferred making money over God.  The third guy preferred his spouse over God.  Read 1 Cor. 7:3-5 for more insight into how to balance these matters properly.
  2. Of course God isn’t happy when He is passed over for land, oxen and someone’s wife! God, being a jealous God, makes an anthropomorphic statement that shows who He really is.  There is none equal to Him; and when we treat Him as if He is our second option, of course He isn’t happy with that.
  3. Don’t over-think. It is something that has been gnawing at you for awhile; zero in on it; and take action.

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Evening Reflection

Sitting still without turning on your gadget for 15 minutes is a stretch for some.  That’s alarming.   If we are that easily distracted, being still before God while meditating on His word for a meaningful duration appears almost impossible.  Shut down your device right now and sit still for 5 minutes while meditating on Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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