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
Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Whenever the late evangelist Chun Suk Lee, a physically imposing man, spoke, people listened; I certainly did in 1982 when he said to me, “God gave you the gift of language.” I had no clue as to what he meant.
We love Acts 2 because the 120 people “were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues” (v. 4). But what we often ignore is connecting this event with the entirety of what Jesus said ten days earlier. Of course, it’s easy to see why we become enamored with the first part of Acts 1:8: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” But some quickly associate this power with the ability to claim health and wealth from God. Had they read the rest, they would’ve realized that the power was given so that we can testify of Christ “to the ends of the earth” (i.e., all nations).
Nations or tribes (etnos) were birthed on the day when God confused the language of men. What was a common speech up to that point, which unified men in defiance against God (the Tower of Babel), became so diverse that men, now unable to understand each other, “scattered over all the earth.”
However, at Pentecost, God, after gathering all nations (symbolically) scattered in confusion, began implementing the long awaited program of making them one again, not through a common speech but through the Holy Spirit, as Paul says, “We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks” (1 Cor. 12:13). Understanding and wonder replaced confusion and bewilderment as if God were saying, “I’ll redeem the nations that bear my curse.”
While I was becoming fluent in Spanish in Mexico where I served as a missionary, I wondered whether this was what Evangelist Lee meant. Perhaps. But the language that we need to gain fluency is the gospel that bears witness of Christ who was “slain, and with [his] blood . . . purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9), so that they may be one worshiping body before God (7:9). That is why we do missions. Now, let’s get busy!
Lord, You are the God of redemption, and for that I am infinitely grateful. Like useless and rusty junk, we could’ve easily been discarded for our sins, but You saw fit to send your Son to take our place to redeem us. Now that I realize that You want to redeem the nations, may I become a mission-minded Christian. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 17
Lunch Break Study
Read Jonah 4:5-11
Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” 10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
Question to Consider
- In what sense does this dialogue between God and Jonah reveal God’s heart? Keep in mind that these Ninevites (i.e., Assyrians) were cruel and ruthless people.
- What did God want to show Jonah through the object lesson of a leafy plant that died over night?
- There is no question that AMI takes missions seriously. In light of the morning QT and the Jonah narrative, what should be our motive for doing missions?
- Jonah hated these Ninevites for what they had done against Israel—and they no doubt deserved it. However, here we see an amazing concern God has for these pagan Gentiles: “Should I not have concern for . . . more than a 120,000 people” who are spiritually blind? Those who say that God championed only the Jews in the Old Testament obviously have never read Jonah.
- God pointed out three things about Jonah: first, he cared more for silly plants than people; two, he cared more for his own comfort than eternal damnation that the Ninevites were about to suffer; third, God was using Jonah in spite of his immaturity and selfishness, not because of his greatness.
- We do missions to redeem the nations. To accomplish this, we are to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19), i.e., people who don’t look like us. Our purpose for reaching to these nations is so that all nations are represented when the redeemed are gathered to worship God at the “wedding supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9; 19:9).
Before wrapping up this day, let’s pray for the missionaries. Of course, AMI has its own missionaries: Kate, Paul, Nate, John, Esther, Kelly, Billy, Sung, Christina and Eun Mi in E. Asia. Also, don’t forget our interns sent from respective AMI churches. I am sure you know other, non-AMI missionaries. I do too and I pray for them regularly just as I pray for ours. Pray for open doors, wisdom, health and protection.