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
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
My dad has always stuck out to me as being exceptionally steadfast and solid in his faith, so I asked him how he came to know Christ in grad school. He said that he had grown up going to church only to please his mother, and he had no intention of keeping that up in America. Despite that resolution, he found himself going back to church each Sunday and even attending Bible studies. One day, realizing that he was spending a lot of time in these Christian activities, he decided that he should just continue to follow Jesus Christ. I was dumbfounded. That was it? Given my experience of his faithfulness and love for God, I was surprised that there was no dramatic moment or revelation that set it all in motion.
Similarly, I find this account to be so incredible. All throughout Acts, we have seen miraculous signs and wonders and impassioned speeches. Paul, too, being a learned man, has debated with thinkers and non-believers in public forums. But here, there was no extra debate, no extra proving from the Scriptures, no miraculous deeds to wow them with. All Paul had to do was tell them that John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, and suddenly the church gained twelve new believers.
I have spent a lot of time over the years trying to learn fresh ways to present the gospel to unbelieving friends or studying counter-arguments to win them over with. Maybe you have as well, and it is great that we have made the effort to prepare in these ways. But let’s remember that is it the simple truth of God’s love that wins people over. Instead of relying on clever presentation or preparation, let’s put more trust in God’s Spirit to work in our words, no matter how simple the message might sound.
Today, let’s spend some time reflecting on the simple, foundational truths from the Bible. We might find that even a truth as simple as “God loves you” can stir up a fire in our hearts all over again!
Prayer: Father, thank You for making Your love so easy to convey and so easy to accept. I admit that pride motivates me to find a way to impressively convey Your message. Help me to trust in Your Spirit instead of my own means so that I can attribute all of the glory and credit to You when someone believes in You!
Bible Reading for Today: Psalm 12
Lunch Break Study
Read Mark 9:32-37: But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. 33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” 36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Questions to Consider
- Note the disciples’ reactions to Jesus in both verse 32 and verse 34. What does this say about their relationship with Jesus? Does it reflect our relationship with Jesus?
- Why does Jesus respond to them in this way in verse 35? Is His response significant?
- Why does Jesus encourage the disciples to welcome children in the middle of his teaching? What can we learn from welcoming children?
- In v.32, Jesus is speaking plainly about His coming death and resurrection, but the disciples are too confused to ask Him to better understand it. In v.33, they are striving internally to know their evaluations, but they are ashamed to come before Him openly. In both instances, the disciples withdrew from Jesus. They were afraid to learn from Him and preferred to dispute amongst themselves (not dissimilar to ourselves)!
- Despite the disciples’ reluctance to face Jesus with their questions, He proactively sits them down to teach them the very thing they were disputing about. He knows their doubts and their warring nature; yet He does not rebuke them but gently teaches them what they need to know.
- The disciples are concerned with whether or not they can understand Jesus’ messages. A child cannot fully understand a message but can understand being loved and cared for. What qualifies someone to be welcomed into the fold of God is not scholarship but the ability to perceive, accept, and enjoy His love.
Jesus loves you, God is good. Sometimes when we hear these simple messages too frequently, they lose impact. Let’s refresh our hearts by dwelling in just one simple concept you know from the Bible and thinking about whether our lives are really built on these foundations. Let’s pray that as we meditate on these truths, God will remind us how impactful these simple sentences actually are.