Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from February 8 to 14 are co-written by the AMI Teaching Pastor Ryun Chang (Ph.D.) and Joshua Chang, a graduate of Swarthmore College and currently a student at Yale Divinity School. They are taking a break from the study of Acts.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Proverbs 4:23, 27:19
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. . .. As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.
“After hearing your testimony about family turmoil,” someone says, “mine is just like yours”; but, after hearing that person’s story, you realize that what appear to be similar stories on the surface, they are actually quite different—while you spoke of unilateral forgiveness, the other person was talking about a conditional forgiveness: They are not the same.
The Christian narrative is one given to us in God’s Word, interpreted by the Christian community through the Spirit. It is the story that tells us of God’s creation of all things, of the human fall, of how God sent Jesus Christ to redeem humankind from wickedness and suffering. It tells how the Holy Spirit teaches us to live and how Christ will one day come back to enact true justice and transform the universe into his all-good kingdom. This is our story, and we should not be afraid to live by it.
But the world tells its own stories, like that sexuality is not God-made and God-directed, that we can only look to ourselves to make the world better, that all religions lead to the same God. We must guard our heart against these narratives and influences that subvert our story and cause us to live against Christ. What we let influence our heart—whether through media, friends, literature, etc.—will affect who we become and how we live.
Theologian Wayne Grudem, in speaking of Proverbs 4:23, says that when he was on the translation committee for the ESV Bible, he stopped his personal time of reading his Bible and praying, thinking he was already reading the Scriptures enough in his scholarly work. After a few days of sensing something wrong, he began to reflect on the effects of this neglect of devotion to God: “Results of missing personal Bible-reading and prayer time: pride, talking about myself a lot, often inwardly hoping people will praise me, lack of love for friends, irritability, relationships with friends just stall or put on hold, general inward feeling of unease, unsettledness, hard to concentrate on Scripture and prayer, self-reliance, no peace.”
Once we let the stories of this world influence our hearts, they will change who we are and our faithfulness in living according to Christ’s story. Deny the ungodly narratives of the world any power in your life! Live according to the Christian story! Live for the Lord Jesus Christ!
Prayer: Father, I glorify You, for there is none greater in this entire universe. I thank You for giving us the story of redemption in which we are ultimately triumphant. While darkness, at times, still inundates my life, the hope in my final redemption in heaven brings me joy unspeakable. Thank You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 39
Lunch Break Study
Read Genesis 3:1-7: Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Question to Consider
- We are familiar with the story of what the first couple was told as a condition to living in peace and joy in the garden. The adversary, who opposes God, had a plan to undo all that. What was his strategy that worked to a tee?
- In what sense does this chain of events demonstrate the power of believing in the wrong narrative?
- What are some stories that we are being told by those who wield great influence in our society that have everything on their side except unvarnished truth and facts?
- The enemy, being mindful of the original narrative (“You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die”) induced the woman to distort it. All the devil had to do was raise a doubt (“Did God really say?”) and Eve took it from there: she changed God’s narrative from “You must not” to “You may not.” That’s what led to the Fall.
- What truly affects our view of the reality is what we believe and how passionately we believe it. If you still believe in a flat earth, then you wouldn’t be sailing too far from the harbor. If you don’t believe in a loving and gracious God, then you would try to earn His acceptance by good works. That, of course, is a ready-made recipe for never-ending disappointments and insecurity.
- The factuality of evolution, the biological determinism of homosexuality, the global warming—you challenge any one of those reigning discourses of our secular society and you may lose your job in the academia; you will certainly not be invited to cool parties or be considered very bright.
Here are some truths that you should meditate on before going to bed tonight: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16); “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 Jn. 3:16a). You are loved by the God of this vast universe; He knows you by name, in Christ. Yes, you have the right to feel elated and joyous, regardless of what you got on your last exam, or whether your boss likes your report or not.