June 28, Wednesday

The AMI QT devotionals from June 26-July 2 are provided by Cami King.  Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, recently completed her M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary.  She is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh. 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

It’s Not Over Until God Says It’s Over

Revelation 11:7-14
When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. 10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. 11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13 And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14 The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.

I’ve spent much of my time studying Revelation in preparation for these quiet times in worship and adoration of God. His power and majesty are just so evident in John’s visions (even as I struggle to fully interpret the particulars of the events). Today’s passage is no different. God’s prophets, with all the power and authority that we talked about yesterday, complete the mission God has given them. But then something unexpected (to me at least) happens—they die. God allows their lives to be taken and the wicked to rejoice over them. It’s a terrible scene. But, as is always the case with God, death isn’t the end of the story. God breathes life back into them—just to show off, it seems, since their work is already done—and brings them up to heaven with Him while the world watches.

The older I get and the longer I walk with God (and get to know those who’ve walked with Him a long time), the more I encounter seasons of unexpected disappointments. In devotion to God, we find ourselves thirsty in the wilderness. In obedience to Him, we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a storm on the sea where death seems imminent and all seems lost. In those times I am reminded of the saints who have gone before and the end of their stories. No matter how dark the clouds and even when death itself comes knocking at our door, we know who has the last word. We will not be taken out of the game before our job is done, and we won’t stay down forever because when the time is right, God’s people will absolutely get up and rise to abundant life with Him.

I am reminded of an oft-quoted dialogue at the end of The Lord of the Rings, where Sam asks Gandalf if everything sad is going to come untrue. We can take heart, no matter what twists and turns our journey brings, because we know Who sits on the throne, the good work He is accomplishing, and the end of the story He’s writing—an end where all the sad things do indeed come untrue.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit and Your power at work in me. Thank You for calling me Your child and friend and making me Your ambassador in the world. May I not squander the authority and power You’ve given me to accomplish Your purposes (even in small ways) as I go throughout my day today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Zephaniah 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 16:24-28: Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. 28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Questions to Consider:

  1. What do Jesus’ words in verse 24 remind us about the nature of discipleship (or following Jesus)?
  2. What promise are we given in these verses if we choose the tough road of discipleship? How does this encourage you in your walk with God today (in light of the specific things you’re facing)?
  3. What are some ways God is calling you deeper into genuine discipleship? What, if anything, is holding you back from the kind of pursuit of Jesus that we read about in the verses above?

Notes:

  1. Discipleship is costly. We offer our whole lives (Romans 12:1-2) to the Lord and that offering is often painful and difficult (because of the nature of our fallen hearts and this fallen world). Discipleship in this verse has four components: we come after Jesus (surrender), deny ourselves (saying no to what we want), take up our cross (willingly participate in the work God has for us to do—even the costly kind), and follow Him (take our direction and cues for Christ through His word and Spirit). There is nothing easy about it!
  2. We are promised that if we choose to lose our lives (literally and figuratively) for the sake of Christ (or in pursuit of Him), we will be granted life—a true and abundant life. And we know from other passages that we taste that life even now, while we’re still on this side of heaven (Mark 10:29-30). Spend time considering what specific ways that promise encourages you today.
  3. Spend some time in personal reflection.

Evening Reflection

In 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe gave Borden a burden for the world’s hurting people. Writing home, he said, “I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.” When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: No Reserves. Turning down high paying job offers after graduation from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: No Retreats. Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month. A waste, you say! Not in God’s plan. In his Bible underneath the words No Reserves and No Retreats, he had written the words No Regrets. (Dec 31, 1988 Daily Bread)

I first read this story as I prepared for a short-term missions trip and have returned to it often as a reminder that there is nothing wasted in God’s economy. Are you living with no reserves, retreats, and regrets? If no, why not? What are the areas in your life that you are keeping reserves? When are the moments when you tend to retreat? Spend some time offering those areas to God so that when it’s all said and done you too can say you have no regrets!

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