January 28, Thursday

Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals for today 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 2:24-8

[Apostle Peter’s sermon] But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him: “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’” 29 “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

28aPerhaps no one ever feared death quite like Thomas Donaldson, then 46, who was afflicted with brain cancer in 1990.   Hoping that someday science would provide a cure for cancer, he sought for cryogenic (science of the effects of low temperature) specialists to freeze him, and then sever his frozen head to store it for the future.  At $35,000, freezing a head was cheaper than the cost of freezing an entire body for $100,000.   Wishing also for the development of brain transplantation, the plan called for his head to be implanted to another body.  “I am dying,” Donaldson said, adding, “I might later be revived and continue to live.”  Ironically, he beat the disease until finally succumbing to it in 2006.

Today’s psalm, which Peter attributes to Jesus, was actually written by King David regarding himself (Ps. 16:9-11).  We can see that David not only thought about death (who doesn’t?) but was terrified by it (like Donaldson).  The thought of being abandoned in the grave and left to decay certainly is not a pleasant thought.

28bI disagree with most of what Richard Dawkins wrote in The God Delusion but not the following story.  He cites a clergy who told his dying colleague, “Congratulations! I wish I was coming with you.”  Noting that this clergy seemed like a sincere believer, the famed atheist says, “It is precisely because it’s so rare that his story catches our attention.  Could it be that [religious people] don’t believe all that stuff they pretend to believe?”  To some extent, this is true.  One reason is that believers are more enamored by the men of this world who are getting all their “rewards” now, than the rewards of being with God.

But King David shows another way: Because Christ defeated death at resurrection, we can now look forward to “waking up” in heaven and being filled with joy in God’s presence.   In the meantime, we don’t need to be “shaken”; instead, our “heart is glad and [our] tongue rejoices; [our] body also will rest in hope.”

So let’s be active in sharing the good news—that can “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Heb. 2:15).  But, let’s do it tactfully, lovingly and prayerfully.

Prayer

Dear God, I praise and honor You today.  Of all the things I need to be thankful for, not having to fear death certainly ranks on top.  Recalling the time when I was afflicted with the misery of dying without any hope for afterlife, I am truly blessed to no longer bear that burden—thank You , Lord Jesus!  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 24

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Lunch Break Study

Read Phil. 1:21-6:  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know  which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.

2 Cor. 1:8: For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;

Question to Consider

  1. How would you summarize Paul’s take on death?  Why do think he felt that way?
  2. Why did Paul feel that his continued stay on earth was justified or validated?
  3. What was the tension Paul felt while living and serving the Lord on earth? In light of that, what is suggested by its complete absence in our lives?

Notes

  1. In short, Paul didn’t fear death; rather, he welcomed it because he longed to be with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:1-3).  As to why he felt that way, one obvious reason seems to be that he was having a hard life caused by the very ministry he was carrying out for God against oppositions.
  2. As long as he was in the world, Paul knew that it benefitted others by helping them to grow in faith. Among the reasons why we want to live, that one should be on top.  That means, those who aren’t doing anything to help others to grow spiritually can never quite feel content in life.
  3. The tension was between wanting to be with the Lord in heaven and needing to stay on earth to minister to others. The fact that most of us in the West do not experience that tension means we love the world and the things of the world too much.   We need to let go of the world (1 Jn. 2:15-7).

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Evening Reflection

As you wrap up this day, do you recall any opportunity in which you could’ve shared the good news?   If you didn’t, instead of being discouraged, imagine in your mind as to what you could’ve done differently so that the outcome would’ve been different.   Pray for another opportunity tomorrow.  As long as the world is clueless about dealing with death, we are in business.

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