January 31, Thursday

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

“How John Tran Became Equal to Benjamin Netanyahu”

2 Kings 5:1-5 (ESV)

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet [Elijah] who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

We often ignore seemingly insignificant characters who play important roles in great narratives. So, while we are well acquainted with General Naaman and Prophet Elijah—the two main protagonists in the above passage—we hardly ever talk about the nameless Israelite girl who led this general to proclaim, “I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel” (1 Kings 5:15). Without her informing Naaman about Elijah, there may not have been any story to tell.

Yesterday, you met John—a Vietnamese believer who not only learned to play the harp but also made harps, all without formal training in just two years. How? John’s unequivocal response: “God.” So, how well does John play the harp? Skilled enough that he was the only Vietnamese to be invited to be one of fifty harp players who led worship at the All Nations Convocation Jerusalem 2018 where 5,500 delegates from 150 nations participated.  What about the quality of his harps? Remember the thirty harps he was told that God wanted him to make? Well, they were all used at this international convocation.

So the conference organizers, amazed by John’s story, asked him to share his testimony in front of thousands of people—including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is not an overtly religious Jew. John’s sharing left no doubt that his ability to play and make harps came from Christ, who gave him strength and wisdom through the Spirit. Afterwards, Netanyahu sought out John and upon finding him, this powerful man told John—an “insignificant” person from Vietnam—“You cannot show us [Jews] that you are smarter than us; you cannot say to us that you are richer than us; but I can see now that we are the same because you have the Holy Spirit.” Suffice it to say, the prime minister was greatly moved by what he heard.

Certainly, in the world and even in church, people like the nameless servant girl and John—an ordinary guy just wanting to serve the Lord—are often dismissed.  Zechariah 4:10a says this: “Who despises the day of small things [or people]?” followed by, “Men will rejoice” when God uses these small things for something great.  This assuredly gives us a great hope that God can use us, too, for His glory! And if no one recognizes contributions you made towards God’s work, then, don’t be dismayed, for “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Heb. 6:10).

Meanwhile, let us be ready in prayer and preparation, so that when God calls us to do something beyond our ability, we will take the first step of obedience in faith.

Prayer: Father, in a world where we get beaten up because we are not good or talented enough, it is comforting to know that You choose “the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”   So whenever I am called to obey Your next assignment, strengthen me to do just that: Obey You.

Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 35


Lunch Break Study

Read Proverbs 22:27 (ESV): “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men”

Ecclesiastes 10:10 (NVI): “If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.”

Ps. 33:3 (ESV): “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Based on these passages, what is expected of us with respect to what we do for work, profession and/or ministry? What is this about?
  2. What are some benefits of improving our professional/ministerial skill-set?
  3. How can we improve our skill set (1 Cor. 11:1)?

Notes

  1. The expectation is for our skill sets to improve, not stay at the same level. This has to do with our stewardship: getting the most of out of the talents and gifts God has given us.
  2. First, our improved skill set can lead to enlarging the sphere of influence for Christ (“before kings”); second, it can also lead to less energy spent while working and gain more.
  3. First, “practice makes perfect”; second, apprenticeship (i.e., learning from those who are skillful); and third, praying for God’s wisdom so that we are wise in improving our skills.

Evening Reflection

Before going to bed, consider one tendency of ours that is counterproductive: Once we have reached a certain level of skill-set (“It’s good enough”), we become satisfied and then try to coast thereafter. Instead of continuing to improve, we focus more on leisure and recreation. Are you like that right now? What is one area in your life in which your ability to handle it is not your best (e.g., parenting, making power points, etc.).  Pray to the Lord that He will give you desire and determination to enhance and improve your skill-set, so that you will stand before “kings,”; and work less and with the time saved serve the Lord more.

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