January 30, Wednesday

The AMI QT blogs for January (weekdays), provided by Pastor Ryun Chang, are extended to cover important sociopolitical matters that have serious ramifications for the Christian faith.  Pastor Ryun (PhD), who serves as the Teaching Pastor of AMI, is the author of Manual de Misionología, Theologizing in the Racial Middle, and a contributor to The Reshaping of Mission in Latin America.

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“With God, Watch Out for a Very Unexpected Career”

Philippians 4:13

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

I first met John and Esther in 2009, when I taught a class in Vision University in Vietnam—they both were students there. Having met in our school, they later got married, moved to Malaysia to serve for two years, and then returned home.  (They finally finished their bachelor program in 2016.) At the conclusion of my recent class in Vietnam for a master’s degree program of Kairos Global University (Nov. 2018), John invited me to dinner at what turned out to be a fancy restaurant. When he came to pick me up, I was surprised to see his vehicle—not a scooter (the mode transportation for almost all Vietnamese) but a fairly new car. Later, while eating dinner at a restaurant, John shared a recent turn of events that shook his life upside down. Here is a condensed version of it.

About two years ago, a believer in Malaysia told John that God wanted him to not only play a harp, but make one. (“That is so random,” I thought.)  Anyway, how did John—who had never seen a harp much less have $3,000 to buy one—respond? Understandably, “crazy” was the first thing that came to his mind.  Nevertheless, John began to pray that God would provide a harp—if this was His will.

In the meantime, a Christian lady in Singapore (who didn’t know John) felt that the Lord wanted her to sell the gold she recently inherited from her deceased mother and bless someone with it.  When she shared her desire in the cell group, there happened to be someone who knew John and told her about his situation. So then, this sister in Singapore decided to bless John with a new harp! That happened two months after John started praying. So John started learning to play on his own with his new harp.  Not only that, he actually made a harp, which took three months. Incredulous, when I asked him how he did it, John said, “God taught me.”  Well, what can you say to that? (See Lunch Break Study).

The craziness doesn’t stop here. Around this time, the same Malaysian believer told John that God wanted him to make 30 harps. He was shocked, yet he responded by making all of them, in two months! So stunned by what I was hearing, I put my fork down around this time. I will tell you what he did with the harps tomorrow, but so far John has made 700 harps! So, John and Esther, who still remember the time when they could afford only one meal a day, were able, with this unexpected blessing from the Lord, to buy a small vehicle for their growing family (a second child on the way) and treat me to a very nice meal.

Let John’s story remind you that “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phi. 4:13); “delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart (Ps. 37:4). Yes, we must be careful with the blessings God gives us—something John and Esther are quite aware—but allow John’s story to remind us that “everything is possible for him who believes” (Mk. 9:23). So, believe, pray, and work hard (Prov. 14:23).

Prayer: Dear Lord, we love You and praise You. Thank You for all the great promises that You have given us. We are often timid and pessimistic, but we are so thankful that we can have a full confidence in You to do the impossible in and through us.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 34

Tomorrow’s Blog: “How John Tran Became Equal to Benjamin Netanyahu”


Lunch Break Study

Read Mark 11:23-24:

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Proverbs 14:23:

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

2 Tim. 2:6:

“The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.”  

Questions to Consider

  1. The Mark 11:23-24 passage is loved by the advocates of Prosperity Theology. Why do you think they like this passage so much? What is a danger of misunderstanding this passage?
  2. What is the antidote to misunderstanding or abusing passages like this?
  3. New Year is a time of hope! What are you going to trust God with for this coming year? Is this something achievable by talents and training you already possess/have or something beyond your ability?  Can you raise the bar a little so that you have to trust God for it?

Notes

  1. One reason the advocates of Prosperity Theology like this passage is that they think that they can get whatever they desire. Also, too much emphasis is placed on what they hope God would do for them and not enough on men’s responsibility.
  2. The antidote to the possible abuse is that we need to work—and work hard! While John said that God was the One who taught him how to play and make the harp, I am very sure he read some books on it or even watched some You-Tube videos.  And he worked hard and prayed even harder.
  3. I trusted God to publish a book in 2017. God answered that prayer in 2018. I worked hard and prayed harder.

Evening Reflection

Did you get to pray today? What are you praying about? Do you trust God that He is willing and able to accomplish amazing things in your life?  While we need to be content with our present life, we also ought to have a holy-discontentment, wanting everything God has planned and prepared for us.  Remember 1 John 5:14-15: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

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