March 16, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals from March 13-20 are provided by Pastor Jason Sato of OTR in Cincinnati.  Jason, a graduate of UC San Diego (B.S.) and Westminster Theological Seminary in California (M.Div.), is married to Jessica, and they have two young children: Jonah and Lily. 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY

Everything in Its Proper Place

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. [25] Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. [26] So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. [27] But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

We expect children and even adolescents to have misplaced priorities: they want to play, not eat; they want to jump off things, not stay safe; they care about being cool, not the future.  But we expect adults to be wiser.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve surprised (or disappointed) myself with my foolishness more times than I’d like to admit.

In preparation for marriage, I did not spend any time contemplating how I would love my parents as a married son.  I rarely considered how our marriage could be used to bless the church and unbelievers.  I did not really think about the sacrifices I need to make for wife Jess.  Instead, I spent a great deal of time and thought on things like a song list, a seating chart, and a vacation we would take following the wedding.  Of course, none of those things are bad in and of themselves, but the real battles of life are not between good and bad per se but between good and best.

Athletes know that you do not need to hate junk food, sleep, or hobbies as the spawn of Satan.  They simply need to put everything in its proper place: they need self-control; they need to prioritize their craft; they are focused on their prize.

Similarly, believers do not need to discipline their bodies because everything in this world is evil and God hates it when we enjoy His good gifts.  But we do so, knowing that everything has its proper place: we need self-control; we need to remain focused on our prize.

How can we evaluate how we are doing in this?  Our measure depends on what is our prize.  The athlete’s prize is victory.  Anything that helps this is more important.  Anything that hinders it is less important.  Our prize is the person and presence of Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters, in light of our prize, are our careers in their proper place?  Are our standards of living in their proper place?  Are our romantic lives in their proper place?  Are our children in their proper place?  People of God, is Jesus in His proper place in your lives?

Prayer: Father, I spend much of my time worried and distracted with things that will not matter.  Give me grace to see the shining face of the Lord Jesus Christ, that I may know for whom I live and for whom all things are for.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 4


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read 2 Kings 5:20, 25-27 (ESV): Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” … [25] He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” [26] But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? [27] Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.

Question to Consider

  1. Is it always wrong for a prophet to receive a gift?
  2. Why were Gehazi’s actions so inappropriate?
  3. What was Gehazi’s punishment.

Notes

  1. No, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9 that one who labors in the Lord’s work should be paid.
  2. Gehazi rejected Elisha’s wisdom and discernment. This was not a time to receive gifts or to be concerned with the things of this world, but Gehazi did not care.
  3. Gehazi became a leper, someone unclean and therefore unable to enter into God’s presence.

EVENING REFLECTION

Reflect on your day.  What did you worry most about?  What did you pray most about?  Thank God that He is concerned about your concerns.  Also, ask Him that more and more His concerns would become your concerns.

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