February 23, Tuesday


Editor’s Note:  
The AMI QT Devotionals from February 22 to 24 are provided by Pastor Yohan of Radiance Christian Church, San Francisco.  Yohan graduated from University of Pennsylvania and Cairn University, where he studied theology.  He is married to Mandie, and they have four small children.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 4:33-37

And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

24I have this friend who is a very gifted athlete; in college he played Division I baseball.  But sometime in his mid/late 20’s, after years of working and not training, his wife challenged him to run a 10k with/against her.  Over the next six months, the wife trained pretty diligently for this race, while the husband made absolutely no changes to his life.  Of course, we were all confident that the wife was going to win.  When the day of the race came, this guy literally rolled out of bed, slapped on sneakers—and convincingly beat his wife.  She was furious!  From this, I realized that when it comes to things like athletics, intelligence, musicality, etc., some people just have naturally high baselines—one might call it talent or gifting—and even if the rest of us try hard, we may never exceed their baselines.

When it comes to the generosity and the community of the early church, I think most people make the mistake of thinking that this level of care, generosity, and sacrifice was the baseline level of commitment for the early church, and that selling your house was the norm for everyone who converted to Christianity.  But I think verse 33 indicates why some people in the church were able to make such incredible sacrifices and give as they did: “And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”  People like Barnabas were able to sell everything for the ministry, because the power of God moved in their hearts and great grace was upon them.  Ordinary giving became empowered giving.

Where am I going with this? Too many of us make the mistake of thinking that having high baselines mean we are moving in the power of God, when this may not be the case.  For example (and I am not trying to brag), my family has always given a “healthy tithe” to church and ministry.  It was just something that my wife and I were both raised to do, so we barely give it a second thought.  Now, most people may assume that we have the gift of generosity or are generous people, but when a special need arises or someone wants support to go on missions, I am ashamed to admit that I struggle with this, wondering whether there is room in our budget for this.  I start looking at my checkbook and give reasons to not give, etc.  On the surface, my giving looks good because my baseline is high, but I wonder if I am really giving in the power of God.  Most times not.  Similarly, some of you may consider yourselves loving people, but are you just naturally inclined to be empathetic or do you really love in the power of God?  Same may go with teaching, leading praise, or administering, etc.  At the end of the day, we want AMI to be a “power community”—meaning, we want to give, minister, work, evangelize, pray—in the power of the Spirit; this is more valuable than having a bunch of talented people with really high baselines.

Prayer

Lord, thank You for the ways you have gifted and blessed me.  But please help me to be a person who ministers in Your power.  Help me to get into situations that are beyond me, so that I can see You moving and be used by You.  Give me the power that comes from Your Spirit!

Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 2

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Lunch Break Study

Read Mark 9:14-29: When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. 17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” 19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Questions to Consider

  1. According to Christ, what did the boy’s father lack?
  2. According to Christ, what did the disciples lack?
  3. Which of these do you lack?

Notes

  1. The boy’s father lacked faith (9:23).
  2. The disciples lacked prayer (9:29).
  3. Both prayer and faith are essential to accessing the power of the Spirit. That being said, Christ was still gracious to the boy, despite his father’s lack of faith and the disciple’s lack of prayer. He is gracious to us as well. Remember, the most important thing to understand is that God’s power is really accessed by His kindness toward us.

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Evening Reflection

Have you fallen into the status quo in ministry?  Even if your baseline is high and you are serving a lot, are you doing it in God’s power, or your own ability?  How has your prayer life been lately?  Do you connect to the “vine” and access His power?  Are you growing in faith?  Do you take risks that make you depend on God?  Ask God to help you grow.

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