May 5, Thursday

Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals for March 2-8 are provided by Doug Tritton.  Doug, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is currently pursuing a M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary while working fulltime.  Doug is married to Cindy and they serve at Symphony Church in Boston. 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 22:21-22

“And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.”

5When I was much younger, I used to get very upset when people would not believe me about something I knew was true. I recall a time I was playing a board game with my family, and they thought I cheated because they refused to believe I could have made this one particular move. But I did not cheat! Being young, I threw a temper tantrum and stormed to my room in righteous indignation.

In this passage in Acts, Paul is in a similar but much more severe circumstance. He explained his calling from God, but the Jews absolutely did not believe that he was really called to be a minister to the Gentiles, for this did not fit in with the “truth” about God that the Jews believed. They were so against what Paul said that they even called for his death! Paul, though, did not storm away in a temper tantrum; rather, he endured the indictments and endured the resultant flogging.

In our Christian lives, there will be many times when the world will question our faith, our convictions, our pursuits; we may be called ridiculous or senseless or deluded. How will we react? Will we storm away from the world in anger, or will we turn back with love, knowing that Christ endured an even greater hardship? Will we be patient, trusting that God is in control?

We are called to be witnesses; we are called to be image-bearers of Christ. Though this is not an easy calling, we know that we have the power of God on our side. Let’s not turn from the world in anger or fear, but rather embrace the suffering and embrace this world in love.

Prayer

Lord, thank You that You have overcome the world. As You have overcome, give us the strength to overcome. Though hardship and persecution may come, may our love and patience simply grow in the face of adversity. This is only possible by Your strength, so come once again and empower us for Your ways.

Bible Reading for Today: Psalm 27

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Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 5:11-12: Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Questions to Consider

  1. Is there a contradiction in being considered “blessed” while being persecuted?
  2. What do you think persecution looks like in our culture?
  3. What should our reaction to persecution be?

Notes

  1. I don’t think many people would post #blessed while suffering. Yet this passage tells us that there is blessing in being persecuted. We are blessed because persecution is the best means of preparing us for the reality that we have a better home (see Hebrews 11).
  2. This passage speaks of reviling and uttering evil against us. Those are likely the most common forms of persecution we may face in our culture, since, God-willing, we will not likely endure any physical suffering in our culture. Still, persecution is a reality in our day and we need to be prepared, or else we may be overcome or turn bitterly away from the world.
  3. As crazy as it sounds, this passage tells us to “rejoice and be glad” while suffering in persecution. We rejoice because we are blessed. So how can we best endure suffering? We worship and praise our great God who has overcome the world!

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Evening Reflection

Reflect back on today. Did you encounter any antagonism towards your faith or any opposition to your convictions, whether minor or major? How did you react? Take some time to thank God that He is the only One who can give us strength to overcome.

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