July 26, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals for July 26-7 are provided by Min Soo Choi.  Min Soo, a graduate of University of Illinois, is currently serving as the college pastor at Journey Church of Atlanta while attending Reformed Theological Seminary.   He and his wife Ah Rim were married last year.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Matthew 5:1-6

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Most of us would dismiss prosperity gospel as unscriptural since it presents health and wealth as the divine right of all believers.  But when it comes to our understanding of God’s blessing, are we all that different from those who advocate this theology.

The word “blessed” comes from the Latin beatus, which also means “happy”.  And isn’t it true that we feel happy when fortuitous things, like health and wealth, happen to us.  However, in Matthew 5:1-12, Jesus attributes “blessed” towards circumstances that naturally do not make us cheerful.  For instance, he proclaims blessings upon those who are poor, mournful, and meek.  If we were to face such bleak circumstances, it would be difficult for most of us to proclaim joy; yet, Jesus claims that we are still blessed even when facing hunger, rejection, or hatred from the world.  How can this be?

The correct answer to this question starts with, “We are blessed because we have Jesus.”  Yes, the ultimate blessing from God is His Son, but if we fail to grasp the magnitude of what God has done for us in Jesus, we miss out on God’s blessing when things are taken away from us.  Who knows that better than Job from whom was taken away everything: property, family, and health?   Yet, he declared, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

God’s blessing is not necessarily happiness tied to fortuitous circumstances (i.e., getting things); rather, it is joy stemming from one’s state of wellbeing regarding his/her relationship with God.  We are blessed because we have a right standing before God in Christ (Rom. 5:1) that can never be taken away from us; and as a result, we can find joy in our relationship with Him.  Even in our darkest moments, especially when things have been taken away, we can rejoice because God blesses us through the eternal promises that we have in Him.   So, no matter what happens today, be joyful, in Christ!

Prayer:  Dear God, I exalt Your holy name; I praise and thank You for being such a wonderful Father who has given us the greatest gift—Your own Son Jesus Christ.  Help me never to forget that while everything can be taken away from me, Jesus whom I believe by faith, will never leave nor abandon me.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 2


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 12:7-12: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Questions to Consider

  1. Matthew 18:21-35 talks about a servant who, after being forgiven by his master over unpayable debt, refused to forgive his fellow servant who owed him considerably less debt.  In light of his, why should those who have experienced God’s mercy should be merciful toward others?
  2. In what sense are the peacemakers called sons of God?  Think on Jesus who, as the Son of God, became the ultimate peacemaker who reconciled men to God.
  3. In what sense are those who are persecuted and reviled for righteousness’ sake blessed?

Notes

  1. Because God has forgiven us, we should do the same for others when they sin against us. In the parable of the unmerciful servant, the master tells him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow  servant, as I had mercy on you” (Mt. 18:32-3).
  2. The Hebrew word for shalom is defined as “peace”, but it also connotes the idea of completeness and being whole. The peacemakers will be called “sons of God” because they will naturally imitate       this character of peace from their heavenly father.
  3. Throughout history, God’s people lived in persecution. On the contrary, false prophets lived in splendor and comfort, as they lied to the masses for their own personal gain. Those who are persecuted can rejoice because their reward is in heaven, where they will share the kingdom of God with the prophets before them.

Evening Reflection

As you are about to wrap up this day, would you consider today a blessed day?  Why would you feel that way?  Maybe it wasn’t the best of day circumstantially—then, may you be encouraged by what the apostle James writes: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).  May we continue to look to the author and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ.

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