August 16, Tuesday

Cami KingEditor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from Aug. 15-21 are provided by Cami King.  Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is about to complete her M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary.  She is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh. 

Devotional Thought for Today

John 7:3-5

But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. 15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” 16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.

16What are your greatest weaknesses? Really think about it – maybe make a list. What comes to mind – mistakes made, personality quirks, physical limitations, aspects of your upbringing, deficiencies in your skills or talents (the list goes on)? We all have perceived shortcomings, and most of us go to great lengths to hide, downplay, or overcome them. But in today’s passage, we’re reminded that what would have been considered a weakness for Jesus (lack of formal education/training would have definitely been perceived as a weakness for a teacher) proved to be the very thing that enabled God’s power to shine through.

Author John Piper tells the following story about his own weakness:
I read slowly — about as fast as I speak. Many people read five or ten times faster than I do. I tried for years to overcome this weakness, with special classes and books and techniques. After about two decades of bemoaning this weakness (from age 17 to 37 or so), I saw there would be no change. This is one reason I left college teaching and the academic life. I knew I could never be what scholars ought to be: widely read.

What did it mean for me to identify and exploit this weakness? It meant first that I accept this as God’s design for my life. I will never read fast. It meant I stop complaining about it. It meant that I take my love for reading and do with it what I can for the glory of Christ. If I can only read slowly, I will do all I can to read deeply. I will exploit slowness. I will ask Jesus to show me more in reading little than many see in reading much. I will ask Jesus to magnify his power in making my slowness more fruitful than speed.

In realizing I cannot read many books, I will pour my limited scope into reading one book better than any other — the Bible. If I must read fewer of many books, then I will read more carefully the greatest book.

Today, may we embrace our weaknesses and allow God to glorify Himself through them.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for all the gifts and talents and opportunities You have given me. Help me choose today to leverage all I have to make You famous. Help me surrender my reputation and my opportunities to be known to You. Use all I am for Your glory. In Jesus’ name.

Bible Reading for Today: Psalm 144

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Lunch Break Study 

Read: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10: Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Without Paul’s “thorn,” what was he in danger of doing?
  2. What do we learn in v. 8 about what we should do when we face areas of weakness or struggle?
  3. What was God’s response to Paul’s struggle, and how did Paul receive God’s response? How does this encourage you in the face of your own struggles and weaknesses today?

Notes:

  1. Paul was in danger of exalting himself (v. 7), and having the thorn actually served as a barrier protecting him from that temptation.
  2. We should go to God! He is our help. It’s also important to note that Paul prayed fervently and many times concerning his situation—it was only after this that God responded. Many of us would have been embittered with God by the second appeal. And God didn’t respond by taking it away, but instead, He gave Paul wisdom and insight that he was able to pass along to us and that offered him a greater experiential knowledge of the grace of God. I find that very challenging – how about you?
  3. God responded by teaching Paul, through his weakness, to rely on the grace of God, and Paul learned experientially just how all-sufficient God’s grace is. Because of this, Paul responded with gladness – joyfully boasting in the area that had caused him such grief.

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Evening Reflection  

Yesterday, we reflected on our tendency to leverage our resources (our strengths) for our own glory and fame and challenged ourselves to surrender them to God for the glory of His name. It requires a new depth of humility to take the extra step of exposing our weaknesses and allowing God’s glory to shine through them.

Spend some time talking to God about the areas of weakness that came to mind this morning. What are some ways God has been able to shine through those weaknesses? Give God thanks. Are there areas of weakness that you still need to surrender? Offer them to God to be used for His glory. Ask for strength to embrace (and even boast in) your weaknesses, as you trust in Him.

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