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
“Paul’s Ironic Boast”
2 Corinthians 11:24-29
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
Let’s begin this morning by making sure that we not miss Paul’s main point: he is not trying to inform the Corinthian church about how much he has suffered for the gospel. Rather, he is using ironic rhetoric to demonstrate the absurdity of boasting. In verses 30-33, he will cap this remarkable litany of sufferings with a boast of how he once ran away from potential persecution!
Of course, Paul hopes that this litany of boasts will also shock the Corinthians back to their senses. He is not lying about the ways that he has suffered, and this passage makes sober reading. Who would want to live like this? Recently, I have had the opportunity to talk to some Vietnamese pastors about their experiences in ministry: suffering, persecution, and financial struggles are common themes to their stories. Yet not a single one spoke without smiling. Paul’s use of irony is remarkably multi-layered. Because in the end, Paul knows that all of his sufferings really don’t compare to what he’s been given. There can be joy in suffering. Hebrews 12:2 tells us about the One we follow: “for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross.” There is joy set before us, so let us endure!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we remind ourselves that there is no suffering we can endure that can compare to what we’ve been given because of Your suffering on the cross. Thank You for Your passion for us. We lift up a prayer for persecuted Christians everywhere, that You would protect them if possible, but most of all, that You would show them Your great love and glory. We thank You for their steadfastness and faithfulness. Help us also to be faithful. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 11
LUNCH BREAK STUDY
Read John 16:20-24: Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Questions to Consider
- What does Jesus say will happen to our sorrow?
- According to Jesus, when will our hearts rejoice?
- How can we face the sorrow and struggles of this life?
- He tells us that our sorrow will turn to joy! Though in this life, we can expect weeping and lamenting, we know that this sorrow will indeed turn to joy. This is the power of the hope we have in Jesus!
- In v.22 Jesus says—again acknowledging the sorrow we may face in this life—that this present sorrow will turn to joy and our hearts will rejoice when He returns. Jesus’ disciples were not thrilled with the prospect of Jesus leaving them, but He says, “Do not worry – I will come back!” And that same hope is for us as well.
- Ask Jesus for help! V.24 says, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” When we face trials, let us not be scared to bring them to Jesus and ask for His help to persevere. Remember, He is the One who endured and now gives us the strength to endure through Him!
If you are currently going through any sort of trial, take this time to ask Jesus for His strength to keep on running. If you are not currently experiencing a trial, pray for someone you know who is, or lift up a prayer for our brothers and sisters being persecuted in other nations.