February 17, Wednesday

Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from February 17-19 are provided by the AMI Teaching Pastor Ryun Chang.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 4:23-8

When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”

17The Oakland Athletics was the last team to win three consecutive World Series from 1972 to 1974.  Ironically, although the players feuded among themselves, their common dislike for the team owner Charles Finley brought them together.  Similarly, Herod and Pilate, who “had been enemies,” became friends over making sport of Jesus (Lk. 23:11-2).  Perhaps that friendship pales in comparison to an alliance formed among Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin during the World War II.  While Roosevelt and Churchill must’ve been horrified to later find that Stalin engineered the genocide of millions of people, including the Russian leader in the alliance must have seemed like a good idea since their common enemy was Hitler.

So, what does it mean that the nations, rulers and people plot in vain and rage against God?  Today, it means, first, when the heads of the nations seek to work together, the last thing they want to discuss and to avoid conflict, is God and religion.  Actually, that has changed: exculpating Islam as a religion of terror has now become a vogue. (The “mainstream” Islam isn’t.) Consequently, the God of the Bible, relegated to the level of the gods of world religions, is ignored or even chastised for alleged past wrongs.  Once, President Obama, while condemning the terrorism of ISIS, mentioned the Crusades as if to say, “You Christians were no better.” (It’s not that simple.)

Second, the moral values and the spiritual truths the Scripture advocates are bypassed in lieu of their secular counterparts.  For instance, while UNESCO’s sex education curriculum tout abortion and contraception, abstinence is merely mentioned as “only one of a range of choices.”

Third, it means that people who don’t believe in God mock His existence as well as the believers.  Long before Richard Dawkins penned “The God Delusion,” Sigmund Freud wrote, “When a man . . . accept[s] all the absurdities [of] religious doctrines . . . we need not be greatly surprised at the weakness of his intellect.”

So, since nothing has really changed from the past, we shouldn’t hide and be passive; rather, we should show the world why the Christian faith offers a more reasonable faith than other world religions—for this life and the afterlife; and demonstrate the intellectual bankruptcy of atheism.  To do that, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, diligently study the Bible, and read critical books that can stretch our minds.

Prayer

Father, I marvel at Your infinite patience over humans who constantly defy You, even questioning Your very existence.  While it must be infuriating to see this disturbing pattern generation after generation, You’ve been amazingly merciful by giving us many opportunities to get to know You through the gospel of Christ.  Thank You!

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 47

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Lunch Break Study

Read Genesis 11:1, 3-8: Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. . . . 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.

Question to Consider

  1. There is a first-time for everything: what happened here that had never happened before?
  2. What was intrinsically wrong with what they did? Are we guilty of doing the same thing?
  3. In a general sense, how would you respond to those who advocate atheism or religious pluralism? What would be your basic strategy (Ps. 14:1; Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12)?

Notes

  1. This was the first time that humans united themselves to directly challenge God’s authority, that is, the right to rule men. Of course, Adam and Eve did that as well, but it was done at an individual level (but with a widespread consequence).
  2. This was an attempt to deify man as if to say, “We don’t need God anymore; since we got up here on our own, we will govern ourselves from here and out.” Anyone who doesn’t believe in God or any “believer” who doesn’t allow Him to rule his/her life is really no different from these men.
  3. I would show inconsistencies in their views. First, I would ask how all religions can lead to the same God when their essential doctrines are as different as night and day. Second, I would ask the atheists to explain the origin of the universe—none that they offer is factual but rather a preferred belief.

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Evening Reflection

As you look back to today, did you hear anyone mocking God and the Christian faith?  How did you respond?  Why did you respond the way you did?  1 Peter 3:15 says: “Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”  Are you obeying that command?  Pray for boldness and wisdom.  And also, read a good book:  I am presently reading The Question of God: C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life by Armand M. Nicholi, a Harvard psychiatrist—I highly recommend this book.

2 thoughts on “February 17, Wednesday

  1. Hi PRyun, Thank you so much for creating these devotionals. They have been encouraging. Currently I am getting my masters in biology education and often times my science advisor who knows I am Christian makes mocking jokes about creationists. I remember one particular time where a woman in my program who had worked as a ranger on Mount Rainier in WA, said in a mocking tone that she met creationists who believed that Mount Rainier and the Grand Canyon were formed through brief catastrophic events rather than what most scientist commonly believe to be caused by erosion over millions of years. I usually don’t say anything in return because I don’t know much about the scientific debates about the age of the earth and on evolution. Do you recommend any readings that can prepare me on evolution and these topics as I start teaching in the fall?

  2. Hi PRyun, Thank you so much for creating these devotionals. They have been encouraging. Currently I am getting my masters in biology education and often times my science advisor who knows I am Christian makes mocking jokes about creationists. I remember one particular time where a woman in my program who had worked as a ranger on Mount Rainier in Seattle, said in a mocking tone that she met creationists who believed that Mount Rainier and the Grand Canyon were formed through brief catastrophic events rather than what most scientist commonly believe to be caused by erosion over millions of years. I usually don’t say anything in return because I don’t know much about the scientific debates about the age of the earth and on evolution. Do you recommend any readings that can prepare me on evolution and these topics as I start teaching in the fall?

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