February 12, Friday

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

Romans 7:19-20

For if I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Galatians 6:9

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

12We want to be a good person, yet, we fail in so many ways. And it frustrates us to no end; evidently, that’s how Paul felt as well.  We want to forgive or stop our sexual sin, yet we find ourselves not being who we want to be.  For many, this routine of failure can cause painful questioning: Is God even with me? How can I live with these feelings of self-doubt, loathing, and shame? Am I even a Christian? How can I change?

But, that struggle is a mark of being a true believer.  The Christian and fake Christian may commit the same amount of sins in a given period, but the difference is in the heart.  The fake believer is one who shows no sorrow over sin, who has deliberately gone off-road from the Christ-like path.  In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, the Pharisee is more outwardly righteous but is condemned by God since his heart shows no sorrow and humility regarding sin; the tax collector, a worse sinner to the Pharisees, is accepted by God since he humbly cries out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Lk. 18:13).

So, we must not give up.  We must always look to Christ to give us the power for moral transformation (Eph. 4:28-9). We must always ask forgiveness for our daily sins (Matt. 6:11-12). We must look to Christ for comfort amidst our frustrations and guilt regarding sin (Heb. 12:2). As we continue on the path of sanctification, we will find greater freedom, although it may take much time.

12bAnd that was the experience of a pastor who finally found freedom from years of torturous struggle with strip clubs and pornography.  He confessed: “I cannot tell you why I had to endure ten years of near-possession before being ready for deliverance…. But what I can tell you, especially those of you who have hung on every turn of my own pilgrimage because it so closely corresponds to yours, is that God did come through for me. The phrase may sound heretical, but to me, after so many years of failure, it felt as if he had suddenly decided to be there after a long absence. I prayed, hid nothing (hide nothing from God?), and he heard me.”

Prayer: God, I exalt and I praise You above all things.  What a sight it must be, seeing us act so holy and righteous outwardly but inside we are full of envy, greed and selfishness.  How awesome it is that Christ always intercede for us before You (1 Jn. 2:1), imputing His righteousness to us!  Thank You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 41

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Lunch Break Study

Read 1 John 1:9-10: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Galatians 5:1: For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

2 Cor. 7:1: Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Question to Consider

  1. What assurance can you draw from these promises?
  2. What is often the reason for us thinking that we aren’t all that sinful (e.g., the Pharisees)?
  3. What is our part in freeing ourselves from the yoke of slavery to sin?

Notes

  1. While we aren’t always sure whether the people whom we offended would forgive us after confessing our sins to them, Christ assures us that He will ALWAYS forgive. Furthermore, He assures us that His interest extends to liberating us from the bondage of sin.
  2. We compare ourselves to someone who seems to be behaving worse than us, which guarantees a feeling of moral superiority. Therefore, Paul says, “But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12).
  3. God’s promises, such as always forgiving our sins and freeing us from the yoke of slavery, should prompt us to discipline ourselves to extricate us from things that defile us. There are some things under our control that can lessen the possibility and frequency of sinning.  Can you think of any?

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Evening Reflection

Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”   Not everyone will respond to the same verse in the same way at a given moment.  What inspires one may be quickly forgotten by another.  What is a verse that speaks to you now that may inspire you to not sin against God?  For instance, does this verse speak to you? : “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).

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