April 14, Thursday

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 17:16-17

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.

amiJust about every Friday morning after our prayer meeting, our pastoral intern and I go out and grab breakfast, typically at Burger King. More than half of the time, this guy will do something kind that humbles and embarrasses me. For example, he will buy an extra breakfast sandwich for a homeless person that we just passed by on the street, or he will notice a person digging too deeply into his pocket to find the money for a cup of coffee and purchases it for him. Every week it would be something different, but every week it is him showing how big his heart is, and me—feeling like a dork. The reason I never buy anyone a sandwich is not that I don’t care or I am too cheap, but rather, I simply do not notice (and this may be worse). Over the years, I’ve learned to walk with my head down in the city (for fear of stepping on dog poop), or when I’m at a restaurant, I get too excited about food and have tunnel vision, or I’m thinking about something else. Emotionally, I can be an aloof monster, I know— I’m not trying to make excuses on the matter.

I wonder if I were in ancient Athens, I would have felt the same level of “distress” (NIV) that Paul felt when he saw all of those idols. Would I have even noticed? When we were younger in the faith, growing in Christ was pretty easy. As a youngster, I used to swear like a sailor, but when I met Christ, I quit that pattern of speech. Then I began to read the Bible and pray more frequently, and I grew. Now that I’ve been a believer for over 20 years, I’ve noticed that while growth does come with prayer and Bible reading, rapid growth comes when I have a heart that beats on God’s rhythm. Do I love the things He loves? Do I hate the things He hates? Do the things that distress Him even cause me to bat an eyelash? More in line with today’s passage, does my heart break for people who do not know Christ or for those who are trapped in idolatry?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. America is a unique country— if you go to a coffee shop, you will run into literally a dozen people of different religion or no religion whatsoever. There is so much diversity in faiths (or lack of faith), we can easily get desensitized to how lost people are. This morning, pray for your heart. Pray that you will be distressed by the things that distress the Lord.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray for ___ (fill in the blank) who doesn’t know You. I pray that You will put some urgency in my heart to share with him or her. Help me also to see every person as one who is made in Your image. Give me a heart that is distressed by the things that distress You.

Bible Reading for Today:  Psalm 4

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Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 4:

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
   You have given me relief when I was in distress.
   Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
2 O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
   How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
3 But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
   the Lord hears when I call to him.
4 Be angry, and do not sin;
   ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 Offer right sacrifices,
   and put your trust in the Lord.
6 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
   Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
7 You have put more joy in my heart
   than they have when their grain and wine abound.
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
   for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Questions to Consider

  1. What were the things that distressed David, and how did he find comfort in the Lord?
  2. In v. 4, we read, “Be angry (or “In your anger” – NIV) and do not sin and offer right sacrifices.” What do you suppose this verse means?
  3. In v. 7, David says that he has more joy than anyone who has riches. Why was he able to feel this way? Do you feel this way?

Notes

  1. In verse 2, we read that there were wicked men who were trying to “shame” David, possibly through slanderous words. In verse 3, David found comfort in being set apart for God and the fact that the Lord hears his prayers.
  2. In its context, it seems that when slandered, the natural reaction is to be angry; however, a righteous course of action is to remain silent (v. 4) as opposed to rushing in to defend oneself. In this context, a right sacrifice seems to be the faithful act of not retaliating. It’s helpful to know that David, while a man of action, never attacked Saul who persecuted him unjustly on several occasions.
  3. I think vv. 7 and 8 are related. David’s joy came first because God put it there, but also in the fact that he could lie down in peace (knowing he had a clean conscience) and under the safety of the Lord’s hand. Do you believe a clear conscience is more important than a large bank account?

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Evening Reflection

This morning, we talked about having God’s heart and caring for people, especially those who do not know Jesus. Take some time to pray for one or two people you see routinely, and allow God to speak to you about them. We also talked about trusting in God when others slander or persecute you. Are there people in your life who give you trouble for seemingly no reason? Consider what God wants you to do (or not do) about these people.

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