December 15, Thursday

Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from December 11-17 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He is married to Esther.   

Devotional Thought for Today

Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

15Paul was writing this letter while he was under house arrest in Rome. His friends were far away, some had betrayed him; his enemies were rejoicing that he was in prison. There were probably rumors being spread about him. He was probably frustrated at the fact that he couldn’t spread the gospel as he had planned. On top of that, we have been reading about how some people were infiltrating the church, trying to deceive the new believers (not just in Philippi, but in all of his church plants). As a spiritual father, it must have been disheartening to know that he couldn’t visit his church plants to encourage and equip them further.

Nevertheless, in the midst of all of this, Paul commands the believers to rejoice as they go through struggles. In the midst of their trials and persecutions, they are commanded not to be anxious, but to rejoice. Paul is able to say this with absolute authority, because he has done so himself; otherwise, he wouldn’t have told them to follow in his example. Paul may be in a difficult situation, but he is able to present his requests to God and rejoice in whatever situation he is in.

Have you ever been in a difficult situation that made it seemingly impossible to rejoice? We can often gloss over this passage and think of it as a cliché Christian statement: Trust in Him because He has great plans for you; don’t worry about anything, you are in His hands. Many times, we use this as an encouragement for others, but when it comes to our own lives, we have a hard time practicing it. Anxiety and fear are paralyzing feelings. It is so easy to get swept away in all the things that could possibly overcome us with feelings of anxiety. However, today, as you go about your day, make a conscious effort to rejoice in the Lord. Whenever you face a difficult circumstance, let your request be made known to God and make every effort to remain in the peace that He gives to you in abundance.

Prayer: Father, even when it is difficult, I want to learn how to rejoice. I confess that it is much easier to grumble and complain when I am faced with hard situations, but I pray that You would change my heart to be one that rejoices always. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 5

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Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 96:1-6 (ESV): Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples! 4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Question to Consider

  1. What is the psalmist encouraging us to do?
  2. What is the implication of singing a new song?
  3. Why should we praise Him and rejoice in His presence?

Notes

  1. He encourages us to sing to the Lord, bless His name, give thanks, and praise Him.
  2. The implication is that there is always something new to give Him praise for—there is something new to rejoice in. Our faith cannot grow weary and tired, but God is constantly doing new things in our lives that warrant new songs of praise and rejoicing.
  3. The psalmist simply declares that the Lord is great and worthy to be praised. There is no other god that is deserving of praise but the Lord who made the heavens!

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Evening Reflection

As you went about your day, did you find time to pause and reflect. Often, we are unable to rejoice because we have not paused to reflect on the goodness of God in our lives. There are thousands of reasons that we should be able to come up with of why we ought to rejoice in the Lord. If you haven’t done so yet, take a moment to reflect on your day. From the simplest of things to the most complex situation, rejoice in the Lord and cast your cares into His hand!

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