August 2, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals for July 31-August 6 are provided by Christine Li.  Christine, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, currently lives and works in New York City.  She serves at Remnant Church in Manhattan.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Theory vs. Execution”

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

For more than ten years, I have followed food bloggers intently. Whenever I tell people, they become acutely interested and ask, “Are you a good cook?” Unfortunately, I must say no. I have acquired a lot of knowledge through these blogs, their videos, and eating, but I’ve spent very little time actually practicing any of those things. I can throw fancy words around like “julienne” and “batonnet,” but I am totally unable to follow through in reality. What a waste it is to know so much and be so terrible in execution. Because it’s never translated from my head to my hands, all this knowledge is essentially useless.

In one of his closing passages, Paul exhorts the church of Philippi to intently fill their minds with godly things. However, he follows by saying that they must also practice what they have seen and heard. It is not enough to merely know the right things and to spend time pondering them. These truths and ideals have to be lived out with their lives.

There is no shortage these days of commentaries and insights about the Bible and spiritual life. But when we read them, have we only built an encyclopedia of interesting facts about God, or have these truths taken hold of our lives?

Since you and I are reading this devotional this morning, it’s likely that we try to habitually fill our minds with thoughts of God. But let’s not just settle for good thoughts! We want the truths to transform us. Let’s focus on one or two things we have learned recently that we can put into practice today. Slowly then, as we make our thoughts about God cohere with our activities, we will find that He draws near as we reflect Him in our lifestyle.

Prayer: Father, thank You for teaching us so much about You. We repent of having settled for just collecting information about You when we could have truly encountered You instead and been transformed through applying what we know. Let Your Word transform us so that we can truly live up to what we know.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 10


Lunch Break Study

Read James 1:19-27 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Questions to Consider

  1. James draws a distinction between true faith and religiosity. What should we expect true faith to look like?
  2. What does it mean that God’s word could be a “perfect law that gives freedom,” when James has written so many stipulations and rules about holy living?
  3. What is our role in making sure we have true faith? Let’s reflect on whether we are intently doing this.

Notes

  1. True faith results in a transformation of our inner being – not merely rule-keeping but an above-and-beyond character. True faith results in an extraordinary patience, an extraordinary generosity, and a great desire to set ourselves apart from the world.
  2. James writes that the word can save us; it is planted in us, but its growth and fruition is not up to us. The perfect law gives us freedom because now we are under Christ alone. Instead of a burdensome Law with many rules and regulations, we have been given a perfect righetousness that is impossible for us to acquire on our own. Therefore we are free to take part in God’s righteousness, knowing that He has already made a way for us.
  3. James suggests that we must first humbly accept the word. Not only should we be intently familiar with what it says; we must also stay humble to be obedient to it and what it asks of us.

Evening Reflection

Let’s spend time in response to the passage–training our minds to think about what commendable, godly things we saw or learned. Then, let’s ask God for wisdom and obedience to carry out some of these in our lives tomorrow.

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