December 1, Thursday

david-sonNote: Today’s AMI Devotional is written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston.  David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace, who is a teacher.

Devotional Thought for Today

Hebrews 12:3-7

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

1Last month, I visited an Islamic Jummah prayer meeting in one of the college campuses near our church. Of course I told them that I was a Christian, and my purpose for attending was merely to learn. As I was sitting in the back of the room, observing the prayer time, the imam (spiritual leader) began his sermon with these words: “Life and death. Why did Allah create these things? – To test us. Everything in this life is a test, to see which one of you is the best, and to see if you will fall away or obey….”

The rest of the sermon was strikingly similar to several Christian sermons I’ve heard, in terms of it being an exhortation to strive for perseverance and moral uprightness. However, I couldn’t shake the weight of his opening words, “Everything in this life is a test….” In other words, until their dying breath, people must strive to pass each test from Allah, lest they fall out of his favor.

This couldn’t be further from the truth of our God. The author of Hebrews tells us that those who are in Christ are already accepted as sons (and daughters) of God. The various trials, hardships, and even struggles against sin, are not entrance exams into His Kingdom. Even when God does test us (He does sometimes), they are not tests that determine His acceptance of us. Jesus already determined His acceptance of us! Instead, God uses all these things to discipline us, to teach us, to grow us, and to sanctify us. This changes everything! While Muslims must strive in order to pass the test, Christians strive from a place of already having been accepted.

Perhaps you are going through a trial, a hardship, or a struggle against sin. Take encouragement in the truth that God is growing you, even through the things that are unpleasant. If you are in Christ, you are a child of God, and nothing can take that away!

Prayer: Lord, we thank You that our adoption into Your family was not by our own merit or performance. Thank you, Jesus, for taking our sins and giving us Your righteousness. Holy Spirit, help us now to endure through the various struggles in this life, and that we might grow in discipline and faith.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 20

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Lunch Break Study

Deuteronomy 8:2-3: And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What kind of test did God put the Israelites through?
  2. Why did God test His people in this way?
  3. What can we learn about God’s method of teaching in this passage?

Notes:

  1. God tested his people by leading them in the wilderness for 40 years. He humbled them by letting them go hungry, and then feeding them with manna. This was intentional, that is, to show the Israelites that they have to depend on God to provide each meal, every day. The Israelites had no control over the manna. When it would fall, how long it would last all depended on God. But it was their only source of nutrients, and they had to trust God for it. It’s important to note that during the entire wilderness narrative, no one ever died of hunger.
  2. God tells us that He tested His people in this way so “that he might make [them] know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” All the suffering, hunger, and trusting, was to teach the Israelites to live by God’s Word on a daily basis. Although the wilderness wasn’t a pleasant experience, God was disciplining his children, showing them that they could put their whole-hearted trust in Him, because He loves them.
  3. Among other things, this passage tells us that God will allow seasons of hardships and trials in our lives, if it will lead us to trust and love Him more.

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Evening Reflection

It’s easy to thank God when things are going well. But Paul writes in Romans 5:3-4, “…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope….”

This evening, spend some time thanking God for the things you feel the LEAST thankful for. It might just be God’s most effective tool for producing endurance, character, and hope in you.

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