March 3, Thursday

Editor’s Note:  The AMI QT Devotionals from February 29 to March 6 are provided by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S. F.  Mark, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.), has been married to Mira for 20 years; they have two children, Jeremiah and Carissa.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 5:17-32

But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” [1]

3As Christians, our courage was meant to come from our identity in Christ. So much of the timidity that we experience in life comes because we feel like we are not good enough. When we get a job that is well beyond our qualifications, we struggle with being unsure of ourselves. When we fall for someone who seems to be out of our league, we find ourselves stumbling over our words trying to communicate. In fact, whenever we are in the presence of people who seem smarter, richer, or more talented than we are, we feel our insecurities rising to the surface and all of our confidence leaking out. But when you truly come to believe in Christ, your sense of identity doesn’t come from yourself— it comes from the One who died for you.   And when you begin to see the world from the perspective that everyone is a sinner in need of a Savior, a wonderful thing happens: you find yourself free from crippling self-consciousness.

Every one of us knows the glaring weaknesses in our lives. Maybe you didn’t go to the best college or have a prestigious career or have the right pedigree. In today’s passage, we see that the disparity between the apostles and the men putting them on trial is greater than the difference between the average person in our churches and a supreme court judge. Yet we can see that they didn’t fumble for words, they showed no signs of nerves, fear, or doubt. It’s possible that these religious leaders had never been addressed in this way by the lower class. The gospel does something astounding in those who truly believe.   When you identify yourself with the resurrected Christ, you no longer measure yourself on the sliding scale of relative status. In other words, your worth and sense of significance isn’t from your career, your degrees, your bank account, or your talents.

The gospel puts everyone on the same level playing field—sinners in need of a Savior. Whether you are rich or poor, educated or not, President of the United States or a janitor, the gospel looks at every individual as equal in the eyes of God. There is something about putting our faith into Christ and leveling out this playing field that gives every person the opportunity to live the life that God intended for them.   Peter and the apostles were simply following the lead of their Master, because though He was born in poverty, He lived like He had possession of the treasures of heaven; though He was uneducated, He confounded the philosophy of the wise; though He had no earthly power, He spoke of a kingdom that has no end. Ultimately, it is this ability to fully identify with Christ that allows us to obey God as opposed to fearing man. 

Prayer

Father, give us a courageous faith that allows us to live in obedience to You, no matter what the world says. Help us to fight against the temptation to be timid or to compromise our beliefs in the name of political correctness or even fear. In all circumstances, may we choose obedience to You as opposed to the approval of people. Amen.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Acts 5:17–32). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 11

QT Page Break3

Lunch Break Study

2 Timothy 1:6-12 (ESV)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do.[1] 

Questions to Consider:

  1. What gift is Paul commanding Timothy to fan into flame?
  2. Why does Timothy appear to be struggling with fear?
  3. What solution does Paul give as the answer to Timothy’s timidity?

Notes:

  1. Paul is exhorting Timothy to fan into flame the spiritual gifts of ministry, especially the gifts of leadership and faith. Timothy’s calling as a pastor was confirmed by the laying on of Paul’s hands, and he is now reminding his young protégé of his need to exercise the calling with power, love, and self-control.
  2. Timothy is generally pictured as a reluctant leader who is unsure of himself because of his age and lack of experience. Perhaps due to confrontations with older men in the church, he was hesitant to exert his own leadership and utilize his spiritual gifts.
  3. As a seasoned minister of the gospel, Paul points Timothy to the power of God as the basis for his calling. The solution to our fears is not simply trying harder to overcome them but by our confidence in the purpose and grace of God. Paul reminds Timothy gently that just as he was given his calling in Christ Jesus before the ages began, Timothy, too, shared in that same glorious calling.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (2 Ti 1:6–12). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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Evening Reflection

Do you recognize your personal tendency towards timidity and fear regarding your faith? Is there someone in your life that will challenge and remind you of your calling to live boldly and courageously?   Take some time to ask God to fan into flame your own spiritual gifts, and consider ways that you can serve God more faithfully and more fruitfully.

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