April 13, Wednesday

Editor’s Note:  The AMI QT Devotionals from April 11 to 17 are provided by Pastor Yohan of Radiance Christian Church, San Francisco.  Yohan graduated from University of Pennsylvania and Cairn University, where he studied theology.  He is married to Mandie, and they have four children: Maggie, Jonathan, Abigail and Simon.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 17:13

But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds.

DogIn a comedy routine, which I have never actually watched and would never recommend to our readers, Cedric the Entertainer made the joke that there are two types of people in the world: those with the “hope factor” and those with the “wish factor.”  Those with the hope factor go into situations hoping that nothing goes wrong; so when they go to a show, these people hope that no one is sitting in their seats.  On the other hand, those with the wish factor go into situations wishing something would happen so that they can retaliate; so if these people go to a show, they wish someone is sitting in their seats so that they can get into a fight.  Coincidentally, as I am writing this devotional, I am in a coffee shop where someone has brought in a very large dog. (In SF, people disregard health codes when it comes to dogs.)  I find myself wishing that this dog would eat something off my table, so I can make a fuss.

On Monday, we read about the Thessalonian Jews who had a vendetta against Christianity in general and Paul in particular.  They couldn’t get Paul, so they decided to get Jason and the other disciples arrested.  When these people heard that Paul was in Berea, they decided to take the 40-mile journey from Thessalonica to stir up trouble for him.  (Man, talk about a group of people who had the “wish factor”!)  I just shared how I have a little bit of wish factor in me, but even with a car, I wouldn’t drive the 40 miles from Thessalonica to Berea to get Paul. And I certainly wouldn’t walk as the Thessalonians did, but that is how far they were willing to go to stir up trouble.

As I get older, I realize that Christian life is more than just avoiding conflicts; and it is more than just mortifying that desire to pick a fight.  Ultimately, Christ’s call is higher; He calls us to be peacemakers. (Matt. 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”)  Peacemakers don’t wish for problems or hope to avoid them, but they are actively involved in solving them.  This morning, ask yourself, “Am I willing to get involved in difficult situations to bring about peace?”  Sometimes, this might mean standing up for another or sticking your neck out when your instinct is to put your head down.  Or this might entail making that difficult phone call to an estranged parent, sibling, or former friend.  Whatever it is, it’s probably going to be difficult and against our nature; but remember, our Lord who came to the earth, lived a sinless life, and died on a cross in order to bring us in a peaceful relationship with the Father.

Prayer: Lord, help me to live in a way that honors You.  Help me to have the wisdom to distinguish trouble for trouble’s sake and trouble that You are bringing into my life so that I can bring about reconciliation.  Thank You for the example of Christ who came to be the ultimate peace offering.

Bible Reading for Today:  Psalm 3

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Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 3: O Lord, how many are my foes!  Many are rising against me; 2 many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. Selah 3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. 4 I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah 5 I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. 6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. 7 Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. 8 Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah

Questions to Consider

  1. What were the discouraging circumstances David was facing?  What discouraging circumstances do you face?
  2. How did David see the Lord working in his life?  Do you have similar security in God when you are faced with difficult situations?
  3. Psalms are essentially prayers, and in vv. 4 and 7, David said he cried aloud and asked the Lord to save him.  How does this Psalm encourage you to pray?

Notes

  1. We read in 2 Sam. 15-18 that David was at one point betrayed by his own son and forced to leave Jerusalem.  So those who betrayed him were likely his many foes (vv. 1-2).
  2. Despite this, David sees God as his shield, lifter of his head (v. 3), sustainer (v. 5), vindicator/justifier (v. 7), and ultimately—Savior (v. 8).
  3. Verses like 7, bring up many questions.  As believers, are we supposed to pray that God would strike our enemies and break the teeth of the wicked?  Probably not.  But we are to pray for justice to be served.  Also, these Psalms are encouraging because they are full of emotional truth.  In the end, God wants us to pray honestly, and sometimes emotionally.

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Evening Reflection

In today’s passages, we saw two people being persecuted—Paul by the Thessalonian Jews and David from his son Absalom.  In the morning, we touched upon the topic of bringing peace, not hostility. And then in the afternoon, we saw how David prayed and looked to the character of God in trying circumstances.  This evening, pray that you, as David did, can see the Lord as your shield, sustainer, and Savior in difficult circumstances.  Pray also about how you can bring peace where there is conflict.

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