March 17, Friday

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

Relational or Robotic

1 Corinthians 10:1-5 (ESV)

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, [2] and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, [3] and all ate the same spiritual food, [4] and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. [5] Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

If we are honest, we prefer things that are guaranteed, that is, a sure-fire method that will produce the desired result.  This is because we love to be in control.

As a high school student applying to college, one guaranteed method of gaining admission to my dream school was supposedly test scores.  When I managed to do well on my SATs, my peers told me that I was set for life.  I would get into the best college, graduate with the best major, and get a high paying job.  They were wrong; life is not so robotic.  Even in matters of faith, authors of many how-to Christian books try to sell us a sure-fire method with guaranteed results whether it’s a method of prayer or Bible study.

Have you ever been jealous of biblical characters?  The Israelites walked through the Red Sea.  Joshua saw the walls of Jericho fall.  The twelve disciples saw Jesus feed the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish.  If only we had been there, seen these miracles, and had these experiences, our faith would be rock solid!  Faith, however, is not so robotic.  Many who saw the glorious cloud, walked through the Red Sea, and ate the miraculous manna did not ultimately please God.  Achan saw the walls of Jericho fall but still succumbed to greed.  Judas saw three years worth of Jesus’s miracles before betraying Him.

When we trust in methods or experiences, we can begin to imagine that we are experts.  We become proud and are setting ourselves up for a fall.  Real Christian faith is not about methods or even experiences.  Christian faith is trusting in a person.  It’s relational, and while relationships have predictable rhythms, they don’t function like scientific experiments.  In fact, if we are looking for guaranteed methods that lead to guaranteed results, a personal relationship becomes a hindrance, not a help.

When we truly trust in Jesus, then we are no longer in control but he is.  While this is uncomfortable at first, it can ultimately be glorious.  Remember, when the Israelites were helpless slaves in Egypt, God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush.  When Joshua was helpless before the stronghold city of Jericho, God revealed the plan that would lead the victory.  When the disciples were helpless before the arrest and murder of Jesus, God saved them and the world.

Our helplessness, not our strength, opens the door for the miraculous work of God and the miracle is not just a show of power, but a means to know the One True God.

Prayer: Father, I thank You that You are a living God, not a cosmic force or spiritual vending machine.  You have made me to know You.  May I not be distracted by Your gifts or miracles but may they be the means to knowing and loving You more.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 5


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Galatians 6:1-3 (ESV): Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. [2] Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. [3] For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Question to Consider

  1. What do people struggling with sin truly need?
  2. Are spiritual people above temptation?
  3. What happens when we are tempted to overestimate ourselves?

Notes

  1. They need brothers or sisters who will restore them in a spirit of gentleness. Often, God addresses our helplessness (i.e., strengthen us) through other people.
  2. No, they must keep careful watch of themselves.
  3. When we feel that we don’t need others to bear our burdens, we are liable to fall.

EVENING REFLECTION

Reflect upon your day.  Did you interact with God?  Did you carry an attitude of “I’m in charge” or “I am helpless without Him?  Ask the Lord to intervene in your life.

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