Editor’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 12:1-5 (ESV)
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church.  He killed James the brother of John with the sword,  and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread.  And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.  So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
We live in a world of violence. In the West we can easily forget this, but recent tragedies in Paris and Brussels bring this uncomfortable reality to the forefront. Violence can possibly invigorate a movement; it can also destroy a movement.
In Acts 12:2, we read of the martyrdom of James. Formerly a Son of Thunder, James is the first of the apostles to give his life for Jesus. Peter is apprehended as well, and apart from the supernatural intervention of God, his death is imminent.
The question becomes, will violence and suffering stifle the movement and the message of God?
A pastor who serves in a Muslim country was arrested and interrogated. In response to threats on his life made by government officials, he responded that they might in fact be doing him a favor. His sermons were already distributed throughout the region. If the people knew he was willing to die for his faith, they might listen again and take more seriously a message sealed in his blood.
The gates of hell cannot prevail against Christ’s Church.
At one time, the disciples saw their Lord arrested, and they fled. Peter, the leader of the disciples, denied Jesus three times when confronted by a servant girl. But this was before the resurrection of the Son of God. This was before the giving of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 12:4, Peter awaits his execution but he does not waver. Likewise, the church prays and waits. Regardless of the outcome, they will not abandon their faith or their witness.
They do not know what will happen to them in their earthly lifetimes, but they are crystal clear as to what is to come at the end. Jesus will receive His glory. Death will be defeated. The people of God will reign with Him in eternal joy forever.
Father, thank You that You sustain Your Church; and though the devil and the nations may rage against You and Your people, You give us strength to stand. May I be certain of what is it come that I may not fear what is here today.
Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 11
Lunch Break Study
Read Revelation 21:1-4 (ESV): Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Question to Consider
- According to v. 1, what will ultimately pass away?
- According to v. 4, what former things will also pass away?
- According to v. 3, what things will be true of the new heaven and new earth?
- The first heaven and the first earth will pass away.
- Death, mourning, crying, and pain will pass away.
- In the new heaven and new earth, God will dwell with His people. Also, God and His people will belong fully to one another.
Take a moment to reflect. During your day, did a desire for safety ever prevent you from following the Lord Jesus more fully? Did God present you with any risky opportunities to serve Him or others? Pray that He might give you the eyes to see and the courage to follow Him.
May the Lord give you eyes to see and courage to follow.