August 9, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from August 7-11 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang who writes about his recent teaching trip to Cuba. 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

One Thing You Need Not Worry About in Cuba: Choosing

1 Tim. 6:6-9 (ESV)

But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

While touring Havana, seeing even a single ad on the wall felt out of place; there really isn’t any need for advertising since products made by the Cuban government only come in one brand and size. Instead of choosing, you just line up and receive your monthly ration at the nearest bodega (warehouse). A family of four, for instance, is allotted one pound of chicken for an entire month but at a very low price. As for housing, once you build a house on land given by the government, you stay there indefinitely. When your daughter marries, her husband then moves into her room unless they have money to build a structure next to or above her parents’ house.

The life in America, of course, is vastly different. A man told a story of walking into a store to buy a pair of socks, but having to choose the right one from more than 300 varieties of socks felt challenging.  Some came with elaborate illustrations such as: “Shock-Woven elastic arch brace contours to arch, providing additional support and normal articulation of the bones in the foot, while keep sock migration minimal”. Bewildered, the man asked the saleswoman, “What if I wanted to walk, jog or play racquetball, but don’t want to get a different sock for each activity?” The woman answered, “It’s really a matter of personal preference.” Meaning what? Whatever benefit you may gain by wearing the socks of your choice is psychological but certainly not performance enhancing. For investors, does it really matter what mutual fund you buy out of more than 10,000 today, up from 3,347 in 1992 and 564 in 1980? Even monkeys can choose stocks which perform better than professional brokers’ (look it up).

My stay in Cuba wasn’t long enough to personally discover what life is really like there, apart from what I was told—not easy, at least materially. But life in America has its own challenges: spoiled by all the choices we have and anxiety over inconsequential choices we make, we are often caught in the snare of discontentment and living above our means, resulting in debt and its concomitant worries. Heed, therefore, Paul’s warning: Choose a simple lifestyle in which our basic needs are adequately met; don’t chase after that which we cannot take with us after we die. Ultimately, choose to seek first the kingdom of God (Mt. 6:33).

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for allowing me to live in America, a land of plenty and limitless opportunity. I desire Your wisdom so that I do not turn your blessing into a trap of spiritual compromise and unfaithfulness. May I live simply so that I can do more of Your work. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 18


Lunch Break Study

Read Joshua 24:14-5: “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 

Mt. 7:13-4: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Questions to Consider

  1. If Joshua were asked what is the most consequential choice in life, what would he say?
  2. While the metaphor of the narrow gate may be intended for salvation (Lk. 13:23-4), its principle may certainly be applied to Christian living. With respect to all the choices that we have at our fingertips, what would it mean to “enter by the narrow gate” (1 Cor. 7:29-35)?
  3. Putting your lifestyle and finances under a microscope, are they simple and healthy enough for you to serve God freely, or are they too materialistic and unstable to mute that question?

Notes

  1. Joshua would say unequivocally that the most consequential choice in life is whether or not to serve God wholeheartedly. And it doesn’t matter whether one lives in Cuba or America. It may even be harder in America because there are so many distractions.
  2. The apostle Paul, under the Inspiration, makes an interesting comment in 1 Cor. 7:30-1: “Those who buy something, [live] as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them.” To enter by the narrow gate means saying no to materialism and consumerism, so that we can “be devoted to the Lord”.
  3. If the way your life is arranged isn’t conducive to serving the Lord, start making small changes. Don’t buy things you don’t need on credit. Reduce the number of vacations you take yearly. Use the money and time you save to serve the Lord: meaningful mission trips, helping the poor, buying evangelistic tracts to aid your personal evangelism, etc.

Evening Reflection

This morning we talked about the difference between having no choice and having too many. If you have read thus far, I would say you have made a wise choice. What did you have to do to get here? Did you get rid of all distraction or obligation first, such as work or study? Many have not yet gotten here because they are still at it. Ask the Lord to strengthen your desire and ability to wisely use God-given freewill so that you always choose that which is edifying and constructive to the glory of God. Remember Paul’s warning: “‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is constructive” (1 Cor. 10:23).

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