April 11, Tuesday

The AMI QT Devotionals April 10-16 are 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 teaches at a public school.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR THE PASSION WEEK

“A Greater Vision”

Mark 11:15-18

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.

In 1996 Steve Jobs returned to Apple to serve as the interim CEO of the company. People were familiar with Jobs because he was the co-founder back in ‘76, but no one could have predicted what he did when he came back. At the time of his re-entry, Apple was a slowly dying company. But to be fair, they were working on roughly 350 different projects, with the hopes of making a comeback. But Steve Jobs came in and overthrew all of them! He cut every single project and forced the company to focus on just 10 projects. Some might have called him crazy, but everyone agrees that he was a radical. Nevertheless, out of this revolutionary overthrow was born the iMac, iTunes, the iPod and the iPhone! Since then, Apple has become the most successful tech company in the world.

On the Tuesday before Jesus was crucified, He went into the Temple of Jerusalem and overturned the tables, both literally and figuratively. The Temple of Jerusalem was a slowly dying system (the glory of God wasn’t upon it quite like it was in the “olden days”) but to be fair, the Temple was the center of the entire Jewish faith. It had been that way for a multitude of generations. Worship, teaching, sacrifices, offerings, all these things took place at the Temple of Jerusalem. It would be an understatement to say that the Temple was the most important and holiest place in all of Judea. So it’s no surprise that the priests, scribes, and religious leaders were outraged by Jesus.

But much like the vision Jobs had with respect to earthly things, Jesus had, in a much greater way, a vision for spiritual things—a vision for a faith that is not chained to the adherence of ceremonial laws nor confined to a physical location. Jesus had in mind to completely do away with the old system of worship, which had turned into a complex system of do’s and don’ts. Instead, He Himself would be the Way to come to God. In Christ and through Christ, anyone could have access to the presence of God.

Although we live in the post-resurrection era, oftentimes we overcomplicate people’s access to the presence of God. When we’ve been “good,” we feel as though we deserve to receive God’s love. On the other hand, when we fall into sin, we tend to exclude ourselves from eligibility. But let’s be reminded that Jesus overthrew the old way, and He became our Way to the Father. May you live today in the fullness of the presence of God!

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for providing the way for us. Thank You for your blood, which cleanses us and makes us worthy to be with You. Help me during the times when I’m tempted to disqualify myself or others from Your presence based on our shortcomings. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit today. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 2


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Hebrews 10:26-29: For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

Questions to Consider

  1. What does this passage say regarding deliberate (willful) sin?
  2. What happened to people who deliberately disregarded the Mosaic Law?
  3. How do we reconcile this with the grace and forgiveness of God?

Notes

  1. For obvious reasons, this is not the most attractive verse for believers these days. The passage tells us that there is “no longer a sacrifice” for those who go on sinning deliberately. In other words, the continual practice of willful sin indicates that a person is not living in the forgiveness of God.
  2. In the Old Testament, there was no sacrifice provided for a person who committed a willful, defiant act of sin (see Leviticus 15:30-31). That person would be “utterly cut off” and “his iniquity shall be on him.”
  3. To be clear, this passage does not undermine the power of Jesus’ blood to cover our sins. Even sins that are committed consciously/willingly are certainly within the realm of Christ’s forgiveness. If that were not the case, no one could be saved. However, this passage is a sober reminder that a lifestyle of casual sin is not the norm for a follower of Christ. These days, there is a danger of becoming so comfortable with the doctrine of grace that Christians become okay with living with casual sin. The thought is, I’m never going to be perfect, so I’m not really that concerned with the sin in my life. Besides, Jesus’ blood covers it! But the Bible teaches that that is not an acceptable way to live! True repentance requires that we take our sin seriously. And although it’s true that we won’t achieve perfection while in the flesh, we must never become comfortable with the practice of sinning.

EVENING REFLECTION

Is there an area of your life in which you have stopped pursuing holiness? Perhaps it’s a sin that has plagued you for quite some time. This evening, invite the Holy Spirit to come and renew your love for the Lord in that area.

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