March 15, Tuesday

charlesEditor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from March 14-20 are provided by Pastor Charles Choe of Tapestry Church, Los Angeles.  Charles, a graduate of UC Riverside and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace, and they have three children: Chloe, Noah, and Camden, who was recently born.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 9:10-19

So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

15Doing ministry for over two decades, I’ve had my share of disagreements and aggrieved relationships. The temptation to do away with people who are difficult always seems so easy to give into. Yet I have found that some of my most prized relationships today are the result of persisting in difficult relationships and reconciling over broken ones.

Paul—still known as Saul—begins his journey from persecutor of the church to apostle, after he is memorably blinded on the Damascus road by the Lord Jesus himself. Ananias, a disciple from Damascus, is called upon by God to intercede on behalf of the still blinded Saul. But Ananias is initially reluctant for good reason: Paul is a terror to the early church, and it’s possible that Ananias is on the persecutors’ list. He, nonetheless, obeys God and finds himself before Saul, saying, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, Saul regains his sight, he gets up and is baptized.

This event would become Ananias’ greatest test of faith. Remarkably, the dutiful disciple not only follows orders but seemingly does so ungrudgingly. Ananias’ words match his actions, as he not only touches Saul but establishes rapport by receiving him as a “brother.” These gestures add up to a warm welcome, demonstrating genuine love and kindness, and more importantly acceptance as a part of the community. At no point does Ananias reproach Saul. No longer does Ananias speak about “this man” (Acts 9:13), but as “Brother Saul.” The despised enemy, the alien, has become a brother.

He found the feared persecutor alone, blind, and helpless. All the hurt and fear Ananias had felt drained away. The same Lord who called Ananias to go to Saul also filled him with His love and forgiveness. The deep compassion and acceptance that Ananias offers Saul was not his to give: It represents the forgiveness possible through Christ, a reconciliation that would shape Paul’s ministry.

Often the believers are called to respond counter-intuitively to the world, and when we do, we can experience the dramatic reconciling power of the risen Christ. The persecuted Ananias, in the power of the risen Christ, calls his former persecutor “brother.” In Jesus, that kind of reconciled community is possible. Paul’s ministry would come to be defined by this reconciliation, between “Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female.” Paul’s life was changed by the encounter with the risen Christ, but through Paul, the very character of the early church will begin to be transformed.

Bible Reading for Today: Nahum 3

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Lunch Break Study

Read Galatians 3:23-9: Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. [24] So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. [25] But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, [26] for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. [27] For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. [28] There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [29] And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Questions to Consider

  1. In verse 24, Paul says that “the law was our guardian until Christ came.” In what sense is this true?
  2. According to verse 28, what distinction has been removed in the New Covenant that once existed in the Old Covenant.
  3. In what way is the New Covenant of neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, no male or female, most evident in your life?

Notes

  1. The Law serves as a guardian, because it highlights and restrains sin, and it also foretells the coming of Christ.
  2. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female.
  3. Personal Response.

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Evening Reflection

“God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas but for scars.” – Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

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