May 19, Thursday

Editor’s Note: Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by Pastor Ryun Chang, who is the AMI Teaching Pastor.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 26:24-7

At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” 25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” 29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

19We all have done it: missing out on spiritual venues that could have sparked our waning faith because of work.  And that’s likely the reason Governor Festus, while intently listening to Paul, failed to really hear what was being said.  Not long after his first day on the job, Festus was trying to figure out why Paul, a Roman citizen whom he had inherited as a prisoner, had appealed to the emperor.  The task would’ve been a cinch if Paul was a common criminal, but the charge against him was such that Festus had “nothing definite to write to His Majesty” (Acts 25:26a).

Complicating that matter for Festus was that this Majesty—the boss who signed his check—was the unpredictable and volatile Nero, who even killed his own mother.  An unclear charge might set off this irrational king for wasting his time. At any rate, Festus invited King Agrippa to listen to Paul “so that as a result of this investigation [he] may have something to write” (25:26b).  Festus was just trying to perform his job to the best of his ability out of the principle that “it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him” (25:27).

It is understandable, then, why Festus abruptly interrupted the apostle after listening to Paul say, “Christ . . . the first to rise from the dead.”  I guess Festus couldn’t imagine writing, “Belief in resurrection,” as the official charge in his report to Nero.  But sadly, being too focused on work meant that the governor failed to grasp what God was offering him through Paul, who had just told him, “Open [your] eyes and turn [yourself] from darkness to light . . . so that [you] may receive forgiveness of sins” (25:18).  Had Festus known that he would die three years later, would he have wasted this golden opportunity?

Work is very important but don’t let that stand in the way of salvation, that is, if you have yet to believe, or, if you are already a believer, in the way of being renewed and ultimately to serve God.  Remember the adage: “Nobody says on their deathbed, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’”

Prayer

Lord, I praise and glorify You.  Thank You for giving me the ability to make a good living.  Remind me not to idolize my work, thereby missing opportunities to grow spiritually and serve You.   Give me wisdom to constantly be aware that my days on earth are brief, and that I am here to glorify You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Psalm 43

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Lunch Break Study

Read 2 Thess. 3:8-10: Nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

1 Thess. 4:12:  “. . . so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Lest someone might lessen the importance of working in light of this morning’s devotion, I chose these texts. What is one reason for working?
  2. Navigate through what was taught this morning—don’t idolize work to the point of missing out on opportunities given by God—and what Paul teaches here: “we work night and day.”
  3. How are you doing with work? Is it consuming all of your time?  Or, are you loafing off?  Pray about making changes.

Notes   

  1. One reason for working is to avoid being dependent on people when one has the ability to work. Paul wasn’t simply concerned with merely working but working hard.  Paul was concerned that Christians who are idle and not working would be a very bad testimony to the world.
  2. Of course we should work hard, for Paul teaches, “The hard working farmer should be the first to received a share of the crops” (2 Tim. 2:6). But when God calls us to do the kingdom’s work, we should obey Him, even if it may cut in on our profit margin, trusting that if we seek first His kingdom, God will take care of the rest.
  3. One doctor, who has his own practice, told me that though he routinely closes his office for 2-3 weeks a year in order to go on short-term missions, he actually does better in the long run.

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Evening Reflection

How was work today?  Was it hectic?  In looking at how you spent your time today, would you say that God was prioritized and sought out?  What would you say is most important to you right now?  Remember Matt. 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”19

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