Note: The AMI QT Devotionals for November 21-26 are provided by Pastor Yohan Lee of Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco, CA.
Devotional Thought for Today
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
I never understood the fascination with gangster movies. Sure, movies like The Godfather or Goodfellas are entertaining, but I know people who think these are two of the greatest films ever made and just flock to the genre in general—maybe you are one of them or have friends who are. But I have a theory that explains some of the appeal of gangster movies: it has to do with this concept of loyalty. In every gangster movie there is a collection, group, or family to which all must pledge their loyalties. The expectation is that everyone must be willing to do or sacrifice any price for the “family,” and betraying it is the unpardonable sin. Of course, in the context of these movies, these loyalties are stretched to criminal levels; yet people are attracted to outrageous displays of loyalty—even if it is exhibited in a twisted manner. Deep down we all want to be a part of a group that is utterly loyal to one another; we want to be around people who would do anything for us; and we want to have friends for whom we would do anything. We are both fascinated and attracted to great loyalty.
When I read today’s passage, I am reminded that loyalty is a huge aspect to the Christian faith. Our God is loyal to us, and He also expects our loyalty in return (people don’t say this very often because it feels legalistic). This passage details how in loyalty (or grace), Christ acted as our great High Priest, which allows us to enter into communion with God; no longer would a curtain separate us from the Most Holy Place. And there’s no need to fear: God’s loyalty demands for “the family” will not push us into the dark underworld; rather, it’s just the opposite. His demands bring us closer to Him and His people. From verses 22-25, we see three exhortations for us in response to God’s great loyalty, all starting with the phrase “Let us”: let us draw near to God (v. 22); let us hold fast to our faith (v. 23); and let us encourage each other for good and continue to meet together (vv. 24-25).
This morning, reflect on what a joy it is to be in “the family,” as well as God’s loyalty, grace, and love for you. Then ask yourself: How loyal am I to the family? Am I willing to draw near to God, hold on to the faith, and encourage my brothers and sisters? 1 John 5:3 reminds us that “his commands are not burdensome.”
Heavenly Father, thank You that You were loyal to me first. No matter what I’ve done in the past, or the sins I continually fall into, You are always ready to forgive me. Help me this day to draw near to You, stand for You, and love the family of God. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 10
Lunch Break Study
1 John 4:7-21
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Questions to Consider
- What does this passage teach about those who love and those who do not love?
- What else can we learn about love through this passage?
- Are there some people you are struggling to love?
- In verses 7-8, John states that those who love know God and have been born of Him. And conversely, those who say they know God, but do not love are liars (v. 20).
- Some other truths about love: We love because God loved us first by sending Christ (v. 10, 19); loving one another is our appropriate response to God’s love (v. 11); those who abide in love abide in God (v. 16); love casts out fear (v. 18); and if we love, we cannot hate (v. 20).
- Personal application question.
Today’s theme was responding to God’s love by loving others. This is a requirement for the believer. Are there people in your life who you need to love and forgive? What does it mean to embody God’s love to your neighbors, co-workers, and family?