September 6, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from September 4-10 are provided by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S. F.  Mark, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.), has been married to Mira for 21 years; they have two children, Jeremiah and Carissa.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Genesis 1:27-31(NIV)

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Some years ago, I had a chance to go on a mission trip across the Western United States with a group of high school students; and we went on the streets of cities like Portland, Seattle, and Salt Lake City to share the gospel. One of the first stops during this trip was the campus of Cal Berkeley. After one particular session of street evangelism, we started to discuss our experiences. One student came back very troubled, because he had run into a homeless man who asked him a simple but very profound question: “If God created everything, then who created sin?

Being relatively new to the Christian faith at that time, I had absolutely no answer to that question—and neither did anyone else in our group. Eventually, we all chose to forget about the question and dismissed it as being too intellectual and simply a hindrance to our faith. Unfortunately, because we didn’t have an answer to this basic philosophical question, we opened the doors of doubt in the mind of this particular student. I now believe that every single Christian should be able to give a rational defense of the Christian faith based on the word of God.

Knowing Berkeley, I would not be surprised if this man habitually used the dilemma of the origin of sin and evil as a stumbling block to believers. The reason why this question is so loaded is that at the heart of the matter, it casts a shadow doubt on the goodness of God. And once you start doubting God’s goodness, you cannot trust Him, you cannot love Him, and you certainly cannot live for Him. Our relationship with God is predicated on His goodness, and that is why the first chapter of the Bible is spent establishing that God is good and that everything He created at the beginning was also very good. In hindsight, if we understood the story of Genesis, we could have given a satisfying answer to the question of the origins of evil.

Everything that God created was good, but He also created morally free creatures who have the potential to take that which is good and use it for evil. Even the fact that we are born with our freedom is a good thing. However, what we choose to do with that freedom is entirely up to us, and we will be held responsible for it. In the world that God created, the freedom of man could only be truly free if there was also the potential for evil. Sadly, in our world, we take many of the things that God created for good, and we exercise our moral agency and use it for evil. This does not negate God’s goodness, but rather it highlights our wickedness and our need for His saving grace.

Prayer: Lord, we bless You because You are good and Your love endures forever. Even though we are tempted to question Your goodness and compassion towards us, we acknowledge that You are not like us and You do not waver between good and evil. You are good at all times and You never change. May we rest our hope in Your unwavering goodness. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 27


Lunch Break Study

Read James 1:13-18 (NIV): When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why is it wrong to accuse God of tempting us?
  2. What is the source of our temptation?
  3. How can we fight against the deception and lies of the enemy?

Notes

  1. James makes it clear that God cannot be tempted by sin nor does He actively tempt anyone to sin. However, God does permit Satan as a free being to bring temptation into the believer’s life; but this is vastly different from saying that God personally is involved in tempting us with sin.
  2. The source of our temptation rests within our own sinful nature. This is the area of our hearts that Satan exposes and takes advantage of because we are enticed by our own evil desires. This also gives us strong motivation to put to death the old nature and to live in the newness of life.
  3. We combat the lies of the enemy by growing in the truth of God’s word and believing in the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith. Every good and perfect gift has come from an unchanging God.

Evening Reflection

It is so important to pause once in a while to consider the goodness of God. In what ways has God been good to you? Think about your family and friends, your health, your job, and your church. These are all blessings from the hands of God. It is easy to believe in God’s goodness when things are going well. The challenge is to trust that God is good when life is difficult.

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