April 7, Thursday

Editor’s Note:  The AMI QT devotionals from April 4-10 are provided by Cami King.  Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is about to complete her M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary.  She is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh. 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 15:36 – 16:10

36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

7Every Christian I’ve ever met wants to know God’s will for their life. One of the things I love about the book of Acts is its practical depiction of how God moves and leads His people through real-life stories from the early Church.

So, how does God lead us into His will for our lives? Well, from our passages today we see that sometimes it’s through our desires – Paul and Barnabas wanted to go back to check on their friends and see how things were going. Other times it’s through conflict and disagreements – because Paul and Barnabas failed to see eye to eye regarding Mark, they headed to different places, doing work for the Kingdom in different ways (and along the way, Paul picked up Timothy – a partnership with great impact for the Kingdom). God also moves through our failures and mistakes – some might argue that Mark’s desertion of the group in Pamphylia was a failure, but in it God still moved and lead him (in partnering him with Barnabas to do Kingdom work in Cyprus). God also leads through the opening and closing of doors (through granted and denied opportunities) – Paul and his companions faced closed doors in their efforts to preach the gospel in certain regions and were lead instead to do ministry in other places where doors were open.

In all of these things, God was at work in His people to lead them into His will for their lives (the specific ways they were individually called to be a blessing), and the Church as a whole into His will for the world (His redemption plan for all creation). Although we’d love to receive a vision as Paul did, telling us specifically what to do and where to go at any given time, more often than not, God is at work in the everyday moments to draw us closer to Himself and lead us into His will for our lives. May we have the perspective of Luke, who understood that in all these things, it’s the Holy Spirit who is at work, leading and guiding us every step of the way.

Prayer: Sovereign Lord, Your word says that my steps are ordered by You (Ps. 37:23). May I take comfort and rejoice in knowing that in each step I take, Your Spirit is at work to lead me into the fullness of the abundant life You’ve promised and into the good works You prepared in advance so that I may do them. Help me to see my life in light of these truths. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 26

QT Page Break3

Lunch Break Study

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Questions to Consider:

  1. How does Paul describe worship in these verses? How does this align with the way you typically think about worship?
  2. What is Paul’s prescription for discerning the will of God?
  3. What might it look like in your life to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”? What practical steps can you take toward that end?

Notes:

  1. Paul describes worship as offering one’s whole life to God. The Israelites worshipped in the Old Testament by offering sacrifices to the Lord to atone for their sins, with Jesus being the final, once-and-for-all sacrifice for all sin. Now our worship is no longer an offering of atonement (where death is required to be reconciled to God) but an offering of praise – with our whole selves, in response to the great mercy God has shown us in Christ, we are now freed to live for God to whom we’ve been reconciled. That is our worship.
  2. Through testing we approve the will of God. My dad used to call this the “try and see” method – as we follow the Lord, as we put His words into practice, we come to see and experience the fullness of God’s will – not only in doing the things He’s planned for us to do, but in becoming the people He’s created us to be.
  3. Our hearts and minds are shaped by the sin and brokenness within us and around us. However, as we turn to God and begin to follow Him, we find ourselves throwing off the things of the world, and taking up the things of God. Our way of seeing, doing, being is transformed. As we seek God in prayer, in the Word, and in community in each phase of our life, the Holy Spirit does this great work of transformation in us.

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Evening Reflection

“Your call will become clear as your mind is transformed by the reading of Scripture and the internal work of God’s Spirit. The Lord never hides His will from us. In time, as you obey the call first to follow, your destiny will unfold before you. The difficulty will lie in keeping other concerns from diverting your attention.” (Charles R. Swindoll)

How has God led you thus far in your life? Spend some time thanking the Lord as you remember the moments where (now looking back) you see Him at work, leading You into His will for your life? Are there any areas where you are still waiting on God’s guidance and direction, moments where you wonder what He was up to or if He was even there at all? Spend some time offering those things to the Lord – declaring your trust in Him even as you await the revelation of His goodness and His plans. Are there things that distract you from seeing God at work in your life and surrendering to His guidance and His will for you? Spend some time surrendering those things to the Lord, asking Him for a true heart of worship.

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