July 10, Monday

Today’s AMI Devotional is provided by Pastor Jason Sato who serves at OTR.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Unexplainable Joy”

Acts 16:22-25 (ESV)

The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. [23] And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. [24] Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

[25] About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them…

After being attacked, arrested, beaten with rods, thrown in jail, and put into the stocks, Paul and Silas have little idea what will happen to them next.  Yet what are they doing at midnight?  Singing.

When I was a kid, I used to sing a lot.  I would sing so much that my brother would tell me to stop, because I was apparently no good at it.  As I got older, I stopped singing.  My heart grew hardened and I became more and more cynical.  When I became a Christian, one surprising change was that I wanted to sing again.  We are all different, but one way I can know how I’m doing spiritually is how often these songs of praise spontaneously rise up in my heart.
While Paul and Silas are singing, the other prisoners are listening.  If I was in prison and two guys were singing at midnight, I would probably tell them to stop.  But the other prisoners are quietly listening.  They recognize they are in the presence of something holy.  They are in awe at this incredible joy that suffering cannot destroy.

My joy is often so fleeting.  One word, one person, one unexpected circumstance can ruin my day.  But Paul and Silas have a joy that suffering and even the threat of death cannot touch.
At midnight, they are praying because the Roman government is not in control.  The jailer is not in control.  The devil is not in control.  The Risen Son of God is in control and His good and sovereign purpose will be accomplished in their lives.

At midnight, they are singing, because the world can kill the body, but it cannot separate them from the love of God, nor can it cancel out the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, the Risen Lord desires to put a song in your heart.  In this life, our bodies will get older, but our hearts do not have to grow old.  They do not have to become cynical or hardened for our God remains wondrous, His power remains unstoppable, His promises remain true.

Prayer: Father, I desire the joy of the Lord.  Put a song in my heart that no one can extinguish.  Open my eyes to see Your Greatness so that my fears and my pride may bow before my King. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 8


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 2:5-11: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. [8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Question to Consider

  1. Many scholars believe that this passage in Philippians was a hymn in the early church. How do verses 6-8 present a God that is unlike any other?
  2. How do verses 9-10 present a God that is unlike any other?
  3. The Philippian church was persecuted and struggling. How could this hymn encourage the church in this time?

Notes

  1. Only Jesus takes the form of a servant, becoming a man. Only Jesus humbles Himself in obedience to the point of a humiliating death.  No other God demonstrates such sacrificial love.
  2. Only Jesus has been given the name that is above all names. The nations and peoples will bow before and confess the Lord Jesus.
  3. In the midst of their struggles, Jesus is their empathetic High Priest who will give them grace. His love for them is proven and His authority is complete so the Philippians can know that God can and will work all things for their good.

Evening Reflection

Reflect on your day.  What problems or circumstances arose that threatened to steal your joy?  List at least three promises of God that remain true despite the challenges you faced today.  Take a moment to sing “God is so good” or another song of praise to the Lord.

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