October 4, Tuesday

yohanEditor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from October 3-7 are provided by Pastor Yohan of Radiance Christian Church, San Francisco. Yohan graduated from University of Pennsylvania and Cairn University, where he studied theology. He is married to Mandie, and they have four small children.

Devotional Thought for Today

John 20:6-10

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

4I am, by nature, a pessimistic person.  My theology about humans can be summed up by two truths: First, we are all tainted by a sinful nature, which will generally cause us to act selfishly; and second, we are all made in the image of God, who is love.  Unfortunately, I think the first truth wins out more often than the second.  When it comes to life and ministry, pessimism can be very damaging.  For example, when I look at this upcoming election, I am tempted to think, Clinton, Trump, why does it matter? Regarding racial tension in our country, it’s tempting to lose hope because overcoming hatred in the human heart seems insurmountable.  And even on a smaller scale, when people struggle in a particular area, it’s tempting to wonder how much change and victory is possible.

Honestly, my outlook is something that I am working on, and often repent about, because I don’t think it is a very godly characteristic.  Pessimism shows a lack of faith in the power of God.  It’s somewhat incongruent that one can believe in the power of God to resurrect the dead, but lack the faith that He can (or will) heal a nation or dramatically change an individual.  Similarly, I find it funny when people say that they trust God for their eternal souls, yet don’t demonstrate a trust in Him for the day-to-day things like finances, taking care of children, and other matters.

When the term “believe” is used in the Bible, many times it concerns other things than the traditional gospel understanding of Christ’s death and resurrection.  In other words, there are other aspects to faith than simply trusting in Christ for eternal life—there is trusting in Him to do anything.  Case in point: In v. 8 of today’s passage, it says that something about the empty tomb scene made Peter and John “believe,” but the very next verse says that they had not yet understood what the Scriptures said about the resurrection.  So what did Peter and John actually believe at that moment?  The truth is, I don’t know.  But that is not the point: The point is, you have to believe in the power of God to do anything in this life and the next.  You have to believe that there is no person too far gone for the Spirit to reach, no circumstance too far out of reach, or no miracle beyond prayer.  What are things you are pessimistic about?  What does it mean for you to “believe?”

Prayer: Lord, like the man in Mark 9, help me to overcome my unbelief.  Help me to hope, even in the last days, that the Kingdom of God is a present reality.  Let me face this day believing it is full of opportunities, not trouble. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 8

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Lunch Break Study 

Read Luke 4:16-19: And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Questions to Consider

  1. According to this passage of Scripture (Isaiah 61), what aspects of the Kingdom of God did Christ usher in?
  2. Do you think these aspects are important today?
  3. Have you lost sight in how God wants to work in the here and now?

Notes

  1. From the passage, we see that the Kingdom of God ushered in by Christ would include proclamation of Good News (v. 18), as well as freedom and healing (power of God).
  2. We often talk about the Kingdom of God as both a present AND future reality (or already here BUT not yet completed). As believers we need to keep both aspects in mind; we need to win souls for Christ and bring peace, justice, healing to people now.  It’s important not to overemphasize the present at the expense of the future, or vice versa.  The bottom line is, that God wants to work now, bring justice now, heal now—and save souls.
  3. Application question.

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Evening Reflection  

This morning we talked about overcoming pessimism and not believing that anything is hopeless.  This afternoon, we studied about the Kingdom of God being a present reality.  God wants to liberate and heal now.  As we connect these thoughts tonight, ask yourself these questions: Are there are things that I’ve lost faith or hope in?  If so, what does God want me to do about this?  Do I believe that the power of God is available for these things now?

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