August 24, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals for August 24-25 are written by Jonathan Moon, who serves as a staff at Radiance Christian Church (S.F). Jonathan is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is married to Stephanie and they have a toddler named Elijah.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Finding Joy in an Unlikely Place

Acts 2:42, 46-47

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. . .. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.

Last month, I went to Cuba with great excitement to see what God was doing and be trained under Dr. Ryun who went there to teach at a seminary. Cuba was what I had imagined: the cars were old, the infrastructure was outdated and in poor condition, technology was lacking, and the signs of poverty were very evident.

However, after a week of spending our days worshiping, fellowshipping, and teaching, I was amazed and encouraged by what God was doing in the lives of the 71 seminarians. It felt like I was living out the experiences of the early church of Acts: “Devot[ing] themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Every day, these students, many pastors and church leaders, would get up at 5:30 a.m. to pray and worship together. The fervor of their prayers and the joy in their singing was clear, as their voices roared throughout the seminary. A short devotional followed this, and then they broke bread together. After breakfast, they got ready for a grueling day of five sessions of lectures on different courses. What was encouraging was seeing that each session started with a prolonged time of worship and praise, and that they went through whole the day with an eagerness to learn.

And everything—singing, dancing, learning—was done with so much joy. In a country where things are lacking, the heat and humidity are suffocating, and poverty is rampant, you would expect complaining, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness, but not in the believers that we met. On the contrary, their hearts were filled with joy, and they relied on God for their daily spiritual and physical sustenance, trusting that God will take care of them as He takes care of the lilies of the field (Matt. 6:25-34).

How about us, whose privileged life is unfathomable to Cubans? Are you filled with joy? Is knowing God sufficient for us, or do we seek the things of this world to satisfy our needs and provide us with a false sense of security? Let us worship God and sing to Him even though life may seem hard, or those around us are more successful than us.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for grumbling and complaining about life, despite all that You have done for me. Remind me how much joy and fun worship can be; show me what it really means to have joy in the Lord. Thank You once again for Your Son Jesus who willingly took my place to give me life eternal.
Amen.

Bible Reading for Isaiah 12


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 1:12-19: I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance . . ..

Questions to Consider

  1. What made Paul’s circumstance a difficult situation to have joy?
  2. Despite his trying circumstances, what gave Paul joy?
  3. What present circumstance facing you is robbing you of joy? Identify its cause and process it through God’s abundant measure of grace, mercy, and love towards you.

Notes

  1. First, he was under a house arrest in Rome (no freedom) that would last for two years (Acts 28:30); second, some of Paul’s colleagues were actually glad that he was in prison because it gave them opportunities to preach the gospel with the wrong motive of shining before men.
  2. First, Paul saw this house arrest as a blessed opportunity to share Jesus with his captors. It’s as if Paul was saying, “I’m not chained to them…They are chained to me!” (David Alas). The second reason for his joy was his eventual deliverance from the present predicament.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Joy is inward disposition while happiness is circumstantial (like your favorite team winning the championship). As you review your day, how was your joy in the Lord? Ask the Lord for greater joy to permeate your life as you strive to live for Him tomorrow.

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