Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals for April 17-23 are provided by Christine Li. Christine graduated from University of Pennsylvania and currently lives and works in New York City. She attends Remnant Church in Manhattan.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Acts 18: 9-11 9
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
Fear is an exceptionally powerful motivator in our lives. There might be smaller worries that create momentary fear, such as accidentally dropping a smartphone down a chute, which makes me cringe every time I enter an elevator. Or there are some fears that are so powerful that they cause us to entirely change our lifestyle – for example, one of my friends from college gave up eating certain foods altogether because of one particularly bad experience with food poisoning.
Fears are, in some way, wired into us to protect us. So it would have been very natural, therefore, for the apostle Paul, to tone down his ministry out of fear. Just when He began devoting Himself full-time to work in Corinth, he faced physical abuse and resistance to the gospel from the Jewish people, his primary audience. It is interesting that God proactively meets Paul in a dream here; God already knows and can address directly all of Paul’s fears – that he could be attacked, or that his ministry could fail. It seems that after this dream encounter, Paul was able to continue his ministry comfortably.
We may not be doing the same kind of work as Paul or encountering the same type of opposition, but we also face similar fears: of failure, of ridicule, of having nothing, of disappointment. These fears have the potential to derail us from living faithfully or keep us from sharing our faith with others. The only antidote to fear in our lives is fresh assurance of God’s love and provision. Only then will we be able to press onwards.
What kinds of reservations keep you from following God fully and being a witness? If you know them, don’t be ashamed to bring them forward in prayer. God already knows our doubts and concerns, is addressing them, and will gently answer them with His perfect love that drives out all fear.
Prayer: Father, I need You! I can be so faithless and fearful. Meet me with Your perfect love and strike out the fear from my heart. Help me trust that when I admit my weaknesses, Your strength will be more evident in my life. Show me that You are stronger, better, and truer than all the fears.
Bible Reading for Today: Psalm 11
Lunch Break Study
Read Mark 9:20-29: So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
Questions to Consider
- At the sight of Jesus, the evil spirit throws the boy into a convulsion. Why then does Jesus take the time to delay healing and ask for a full account of the boy’s trouble?
- Let us think about the honest prayer from the father: “I believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” How can this encourage us when we face similar crises of faith?
- Jesus rests on the situation so that the father may testify fully and also reveal the condition of his faith. The long years of sickness and near-death experiences have resigned the father to hopelessness; he dares not hope for healing.
- The father’s prayer of confession mirrors our own gap between our knowledge of God and our true experience with that knowledge. Despite our lack of faith, however, God is constantly, graciously moving in more powerful ways than we ask or seek. No matter what hopeless situation we think we are facing, let us approach Him and ask for faith to believe that He can overcome the struggles we have.
Fear and unbelief keep us from fully living out the rich and free lives that God intends for us. Did you catch yourself motivated by fear rather than faith today? Let’s pray over the circumstances or people that make us fearful and unable to take God at His word. We may not immediately be able to overcome the fear tomorrow, but God will slowly give you the strength to overcome.