May 16, Tuesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from May 15-21 are provided by Pastor Barry Kang, who heads Symphony Church in Boston.  Barry, a graduate of Stanford University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Sunny (an amazing worship leader, chef and math wizard).  They are the proud parents of Caleb and Micah.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch!”

2 Corinthians 11:7-11

Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

“There is no such things as a free lunch,” my high school economics teacher loved to tell us.  Many of us, over the years, have learned to become skeptical of anyone who will offer to give us something for free.  “What’s the catch?” we wonder.  The Corinthians, under the influence of “super-apostles,” were wondering why Paul labored as a tent-maker if this message he had was so valuable.  If what is being offered is truly valuable, then it ought to cost something to the receiver.

And of course it does.   But we understand the gospel is not for sale—it’s a gift.  And when a gift is given, the giver takes on the cost.  Paul accepted support from the church in Macedonia and worked as a tent-maker in Corinth during his time there, so that Corinthians would not have to pay anything for the gospel.  Paul’s determination was this: he was going to disadvantage himself so that the Corinthians could be advantaged.   In this, he was showing the nature of the gospel.  The gospel is free to us, but costly to the giver.  Christ paid the price so that we could receive forgiveness “free of charge”!

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your incredible grace.  Forgive us that we often think that we have to pay something in return, as though our efforts could compare to the value of the gift.  We want to receive this grace freely; and in return, find our hearts transformed so that like Paul, we are willing to give freely so that others would also receive.  We take a moment to pray for all the bi-vocational pastors and missionaries who labor so that the gospel may come free of charge, and ask that You bless their labor.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 4


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Mark 2:3-5 (NIV): Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What did the paralyzed man do in this story?
  2. Whose faith amazed Jesus in this story?
  3. What does this passage teach us about carrying others’ burdens?

Notes

  1. The paralyzed man simply was carried by his friends to Jesus. He did not earn Jesus’ forgiveness, he did not earn the healing that Jesus would give him; rather, he was brought to Jesus by his friends, carried along by their strength and determination. He had a “free” trip to Jesus.
  2. The faith of the friends is what amazed Jesus. After Jesus saw what these friends went through to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus, He then forgave the sins of the paralyzed man and also healed him of his paralysis.
  3. Oftentimes when we think of carrying others’ burdens, we think in physical or emotional terms. But there is a spiritual dimension as well. Just as the faith of those men had an impact on their friend, our faith and our prayers for others can have a spiritual impact on them as well. Let’s be burdened for the sake of others’ in our lives!

EVENING REFLECTION

Is there someone in your life going through a difficult season or maybe someone who is in need of God’s love, presence, and healing? Spend some time praying for that person, and thus carry their burden. Just as Paul was burdened for the Corinthians, let’s be burdened for those God has brought into our lives!

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