September 8, Thursday

Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from September 5-11 are provided by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S. F. Mark, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.), has been married to Mira for 20 years; they have two children, Jeremiah and Carissa.

Devotional Thought for Today

John 12:37-50 (ESV) 

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.

42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the

Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;

43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from

God. 44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in

him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the

world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone

hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge

the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my

words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I

have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a

commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is

eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” 

8Leighton Ford, the brother-in-law of Billy Graham, in his book Transforming Leadership states that the two words to best summarize the earthly ministry of Jesus are: authority and power. Stephen Neil, in his study on the life of Christ, concurs with this assessment and writes: “The Jesus who strides through the Gospels is a man of immense and terrifying power. He is the master of every situation. He speaks with authority and not as the scribes. He is never at a loss for an answer… He knows how to draw men and women to himself in a devotion which will prove stronger than persecution and death.”

Those who study the field of leadership have debated on what the difference is between authority and power, but the general consensus is that power is the ability to change unwanted circumstances so that they align with your own desires, while authority is the ability to command that change by the sheer force of your will and personhood.   In relation to people, authority then is the ability to get others to do what you want, because they recognize through your life that what you ask of them is legitimate and right.

And in Jesus, we find this perfect balance of power and authority in the miracles that He performs, the life that He lives, and the obedience that He demands. Because His authority comes directly from the Father, there is no earthly parallel to the sheer power and influence that Jesus commands at His will. Many of us would agree with this assessment of Jesus, but at times we fail to show Him the honor and the devotion that He is so worthy of. Too often, we settle for a lukewarm faith that Jesus simply did not allow for, and ultimately, this points to something that is lacking in our modern experience of Christianity. The unavoidable conclusion that was made by every person that met Jesus was that He was someone that demanded some level of reaction—either to follow Him or to reject Him. The authentic Jesus did not leave room for a middle ground.

Like the authorities who believed but could not confess their faith, we too can fall into the trap of loving the glory that comes from the world rather than the glory that comes from God.  This morning, let’s pray that the Spirit of God would lead us to a deeper understanding of Christ’s authority, so that we may be drawn to Him with complete devotion.

Prayer: Lord, may we receive Your word as the sole authority over our lives. Show us how to honor You with our devotion and to live in a manner that is worthy of the gospel. Help us to seek the glory that comes from God, over and against any glory that we can receive from man. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Luke 18

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Lunch Break Study 

Read 1 Corinthians 10: 23-33(ESV): “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

Questions to Consider

  1. How can Christians make decisions on non-essential matters of lifestyle?
  2. What does Paul mean when he addresses the subject of Christian freedom on the ground of conscience?
  3. How can we balance doing everything for the glory of God, and at the same time try to please everyone in everything?

Notes

  1. In the gray areas of Christian behavior, the rule of the thumb that this passage points to is how our actions impact the good of our neighbors. Does the exercise of our liberties serve to build people up around us and benefit them, or are they solely about my own good?
  2. Paul advocates that we make decisions on Christian liberties not just on personal conscience, but also based on how it affects the conscience of others. Even if your conscience gives you the freedom to act in a particular way, if you know that your behavior negatively impacts the conscience of a brother, then it is best to refrain.
  3. From Paul’s point of view, the good of all is measured by how people can be brought to salvation. If the saving of souls is your primary motivation for life, then living for God’s glory and trying to please people are in perfect alignment. It is when you forget this directive of the gospel that pleasing people becomes dangerous.

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Evening Reflection  

In what ways were you aware of Christ’s authority in your day-to-day activity? How did you adjust your actions based on doing all things for God’s glory? Have you been motivated to share your faith, both in words and deed? Pray that the Holy Spirit would give you boldness to truly live for the glory of God.

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