Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from December 5-11 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who serves as the Fenway site pastor of Symphony Church in Boston. Shan, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Jenny, who recently gave birth to their first baby Tyler.
Devotional Thought for Today
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.
In the movie Shawshank Redemption, the narrator describes the main character, Andy Dufresne, like this: “He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place.” Andy was convicted of a crime that he did not commit and sentenced to life in prison. He was a victim of injustice, and yet, while stuck in prison, he walked around without a care or worry—it was as if he were a free man.
Perhaps, that’s one of the best ways we could describe Apostle Paul. He had every reason to feel like a victim to his circumstances. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he was imprisoned for doing what he was supposed to be doing—serving the Lord and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though he hadn’t done anything wrong nor committed any crime, he was being unjustly punished. And yet through all of it, as a man in chains, instead of feeling like a victim of his circumstances, Paul seemed to be like a free man. In this passage, Paul was certain that everything that has happened to him—all of the injustices—had a purpose to advance the gospel. Paul was in prison for Jesus, and because of that, he was free.
In our culture, it’s becoming easier and easier for us to have a victim mentality. When life doesn’t go our way, when we experience criticism, rejection, loss, or bad traffic, we can tend to feel like, “Woe is me!” As followers of Christ, we, more than any others in this world, should be able to walk without a care or worry in the world. When we face the trials, struggles, and injustices, we shouldn’t see ourselves as victims of our circumstances. Instead, we should strive for this heart that Paul had: He understood that in all of his difficult situations, Jesus was with him, and that Jesus could use those circumstances for the advancement of the gospel. No matter what trials or injustices we face, and no matter what direction life leads us, we can live like we are free, because Christ has set us free—and our lives are in His hands.
Prayer: Jesus, I entrust my life into Your hands. Help me to understand that You reign over my life and that even in difficult times, You are there with me. Set me free, Lord, and may You be glorified in my life. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 27
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Peter 1:6-9: In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Questions to Consider
- How was the faith of Peter’s audience tested?
- What is the result of genuine faith in Christ?
- Peter encourages his readers to rejoice through their trials. How can we have this same heart of rejoicing as we face trials in our own lives?
- The genuineness of their faith was tested through various trials. Considering the time period when Peter addressed his audience, by “various trials,” Peter was likely referring to the persecution that they were facing as Christians. Peter compares this testing of their faith to the purification of gold, because gold is purified by exposing it to fire as a way to burn off any impurities. Likewise, the faith of Peter’s audience was purified as they persevered through various trials. As they faced the “fire,” they were compelled to put their faith and trust in Jesus.
- The result is that praise and glory and honor are given to the name of Jesus. Christ is honored and glorified as our faith in Him is purified. The more we trust in Jesus, the greater the glory He receives.
- We can rejoice for the salvation of our souls, as we trust and love Jesus during our trials.v
Think about your day today. Were you a “victim” to your circumstances? Or did you experience freedom as a child of God? Take a moment and pray so that in all circumstances, your heart can be free, and rejoice that Jesus has set you free.