March 21, Monday

21Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from March 21-27 are provided by Pastor Jason Sato of OTR in Cincinnati.  Jason, a graduate of UC San Diego (B.S.) and Westminster Theological Seminary in California (M.Div.), is married to Jessica, and they have two young children: Jonah and Lily.  

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 11:1-3 (ESV)

Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. [2] So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, [3] “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

21bAfter the household of Cornelius receives the Holy Spirit, the circumcision party is deeply offended.  This is ridiculous.  People were saved and the circumcision party is worried about the quality of Peter’s dinner guests?

Now, the problem is not simply that Peter has eaten with sinners.  Everyone knew that Jesus frequently ate with tax collectors and prostitutes, though these sinners were presumably Jewish.  So, is the circumcision party guilty of blatant racism?  I don’t think the issue is so simple.  Essentially, the circumcision party believes that Gentiles must become Jews before they can become Christians.  After all, Jesus did say, “Salvation is from the Jews.”

The circumcision party assumes that there is something inherently valuable about being Jewish apart from the grace of God.  They have forgotten where they came from.  Of course, the Israelites have a special place in God’s heart and in His redemptive plan, but God chose them, not because they were special, but because they were small and insignificant.

The prerequisite for becoming a child of God, whether for Jewish sinners or Gentile sinners, is not circumcision or even baptism, but repentance and faith.  And this is good news for people who need the grace of God.

At the Living Water Church, I work with teenage boys from the inner city.  I know boys who aspire to be drug dealers.  I know boys who are in juvenile detention for their violence.   I know boys who spent their nights robbing their neighbors.  And there is good news for them.

They do not need to become middle class to be saved.  They do not need to adopt another culture or race.  No, God can wash away their sins as they are and give them a completely new life if they would simply trust in Jesus.

Now it may sound romantic when we apply this good news to others, but are we astounded or insulted when we are told that we need the same, exact kind of grace?  Do we want the grace that is extended to criminals?  Do we know we need it?

Prayer

Father, I thank that the grace You offer to me is real for my sin and my need is real.  May I never forget that I am nothing more than a sinner in need of a Savior and You are a wonderful Savior to me.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 7

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Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (ESV): For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. [27] But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; [28] God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, [29] so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. [30] And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, [31] so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Question to Consider

  1. What kind of people belong to the church of Corinth?
  2. Why does God choose such people?
  3. What kind of boasting is appropriate?

Notes

  1. People who are not wise, powerful, or of noble birth by worldly standards. In fact they are foolish, low, and despised.
  2. In order to shame the wise and the strong and so that no person may boast in the presence of God.
  3. Boasting in the Lord, who is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

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Evening Reflection

In what ways were you aware of your need of the grace of God today?  In what ways were you tempted to think you had no need of grace?  Take a moment to thank God for His grace that addresses your sin as well as your pride.

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