The AMI QT Devotionals from June 12-18 are written by Pastor Andrew Kim at Tapestry Church. Andrew, a graduate of Eternity Bible College, is currently attending Fuller Theological Seminary. He and Jessie were married in 2014.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, “Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?” 11 They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow servants and of their brothers and sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed.”
Recently, a bus full of Coptic Christians were killed for their faith as they were on their way to a monastery. At least 28 died and 25 wounded. Among the dead were two small girls who were 2 and 4. This is just one tragic example of the persecution that many Christians face throughout the world. In fact, 900,000 Christians have been martyred for their faith in the last 10 year, making it one of the most violent eras for the church. It is a sobering reminder that following Christ is not for the fainthearted—there is a cost to be paid, sometimes even with our very lives. Many of us in the West are often shielded from this reality, since the worst thing that can happen to us is a moment of embarrassment. Sometimes we think that violent persecutions are a thing of the past, but many of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are paying tremendous cost for their testimony to God.
The recipients of the letter understood the cost well. When the fifth seal had opened, John saw “those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given.” In other words, he saw Christians who had been martyred for their faith under the altar. What’s interesting is that in verse 11, they are given a white robe, which symbolized purity and victory. Just like John redefined what power looks like (weakness rather than a show of force) in chapter 5, he is also reminding those who are suffering that true victory is in remaining faithful to God, even in the face of death—not in conforming or violently rebelling against their persecutors. God declares that it is He who will avenge them in due time. In other words, all their sacrifice will be worth it, and in the end they will be true victors. Let us take time to remember our persecuted brothers and sisters, and pray that God will strengthen their resolve, fortify their faith, and provide them with an unrelenting hope!
Prayer: Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters who are being persecuted at this moment. We ask that You might alleviate their pain, but if not, provide them with strength to remain steadfast and faithful to the word of God! Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 10
LUNCH BREAK STUDY
Read Mark 8:31-38: And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Questions to Consider
- Why did Peter take Jesus aside after he heard that Jesus would be killed, and why did Jesus rebuke Peter for his actions?
- What is the call to discipleship that Jesus gives in this passage?
- What areas of your life do you need to deny?
- Many Jews at the time were waiting for a Messiah who would come in power and overthrow the Roman Empire, giving back the people of Israel their Promised Land. A dead messiah did not fit into Peter’s expectations. However, Jesus reminds him that Peter did not have the things of God in mind. God’s way of life is different—it is one of weakness, loving one’s enemies, and dying to oneself.
- The call to discipleship is to deny oneself and take up the cross and follow Jesus. It is not an easy way to live but it requires much sacrifice and self-death.
- Personal response.
“To take up your cross is to consider it better to die than to live for something other than Jesus.”