February 5, Friday

Editor’s Note:  The AMI QT devotionals from Feb. 1-7 are provided by Cami King. Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is about to complete her M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary.  She is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh. 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 3:6-10 

 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

5Very few Christians in America have ever seen a good old fashioned, New Testament healing. I personally have never seen a lame man get up and walk at a mere command. Part of me wonders if the infrequency of the miraculous is due to our lack of felt-need for God’s supernatural power. When Peter and John encountered the man in the passage above, he asked them for something – not healing, obviously, because he didn’t imagine that was something they could give, but money, a more reasonable request. However, Peter first responded by acknowledging his lack and what he didn’t have – I don’t have any money – and his dependence on God for provision – but I do have the power of the name of Jesus.

Self-reliance can lead us to miss the opportunity to experience the supernatural work of God in our lives. In some ways, it’s understandable – we have modern medicine and therefore don’t need to command healings. We have food and money and material resources and therefore can give of those things when we are asked. And that all makes sense, as these things are gifts from God. But I wonder how often we miss an opportunity to see God at work in ways beyond what we’ve imagined possible when we don’t stop to acknowledge our dependence upon Him.

No matter how much we have and how advanced we’ve become as a society, we are still dependent on God. Even in operating rooms and at ATMs, God is the ultimate provider of every good gift. And when we are asked by others for help, we might want to stop for a brief moment and ask the Spirit within us how He wants to meet that need through us. Oftentimes He will do the expected, and has already empowered us through our material resources to be a blessing. But every now and again, He may have something in mind that is immeasurably more than what we thought or imagined possible. May we not miss it because we never stopped to ask.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to remember that You are my provider and I am dependent upon You always. Thank You for the many resources You’ve given me and the many ways You’ve blessed me. May I use them wisely to be a blessing to others. And if there are ways You want to move through me that are outside of my material resources, make me sensitive to the promptings of Your Spirit within. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 33

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Lunch Break Study

Read James 1:9-11

Now the believer of humble means should take pride in his high position. 10 But the rich person’s pride should be in his humiliation, because he will pass away like a wildflower in the meadow. 11 For the sun rises with its heat and dries up the meadow; the petal of the flower falls off and its beauty is lost forever. So also the rich person in the midst of his pursuits will wither away. 

James 4:13-17

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this or that town and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes. 15 You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast about your arrogant plans. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin.

Questions to Consider:  

  1. Many people interpret James’s words in 1:13-17 as a condemnation of being rich. But with his words in 4:13-17 in mind (where he speaks again directly to the rich Christians), what is James actually condemning and why is it dangerous?
  2. How do James’s words in the 4:13-17 challenge you? What are the areas in your life where you tend to fall into this line of thinking?
  3. What would it look like for you to take a “if the Lord is willing” posture in your life (maybe in the areas you mentioned in question 2)?

Notes:

  1. James’s words are a condemnation not of being rich but of being prideful and self-reliant. Wealth and material resources often woo us into a false sense of independence. When we don’t have any felt need from the people around us, we begin to convince ourselves that we don’t have any need at all – even from God. We believe the lie that we are the source of what we have and find security in our wealth. This is dangerous because, as James explains, we are still dependent, even our lives are not our own, they will one day fade away and that’s completely out of our control. When we have the freedom that wealth affords in the material world, we have to be careful to remember our dependence on God.
  2. Most people in America have their basic needs met and have never experienced true hunger or poverty. Because we go to work and receive a paycheck on schedule, progress through school in a fairly pre-defined manner, begin a career and expect to advance on a certain time table, we tend to know what to expect from life. And we often make plans based on those rhythms with little consideration for God and what He may be up to and desiring for us. Not that it’s wrong to make plans, but it’s important to remember that we are dependent on God and to pause from time to time to give Him room to lead us according to His will.
  3. Spend some time in personal reflection. For most of us this comes down to creating greater margins – in our budget, in our daily schedule, in our plans for the year—and we need to leave room for God to do something different. For others of us it comes down to opening our hands – instead of holding our plans so tightly, we may need to be a bit more flexible when we do sense God moving us in a different direction.

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Evening Reflection

While self-reliance often hinders us from experiencing God at work in and through us, there is another obstacle many of us face: busyness. When Peter and John were approached on their way into the temple, they took the time to actually have a person-to-person interaction. It’s not that they weren’t busy (they were “on their way” to do something), but they took time out of their schedule to be a blessing. Are there people in your life today who have needs that God may desire to meet through you? Ask the Lord to bring to mind a specific person and one tangible way you can be a blessing to him/her this week.

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