Today’s devotional, provided by the staff of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, led by Pastor Peter Yoon, was originally posted on July 1, 2013.
Devotional Thought for Today
“That Which Sets Apart King Jesus from All of His Predecessors”
“Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. 2 May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. 3 May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. 4 May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.”
Psalm 72 records King David’s prayer for his son Solomon. In this stage of Israel’s history, the king represented the people before God. Depending on the faith of the king, the people were blessed or cursed. A king faithful to God like Hezekiah brought blessing, whereas an idolatrous king like Ahaz brought God’s curse. Solomon reigned during the golden age of Israel’s history, but his descent into idolatry began a downward spiral for the nation.
Thank God that our King who represents us is none other than the Son of God! Perfect in righteousness, justice, and compassion, Jesus brings prosperity to His people. He not only begins His life and ministry in faithfulness, but He is perfectly obedient even unto death on the cross.
Meditate upon the perfect righteousness and obedience which Christ has accomplished for you. How does his work on the cross free you from the need to validate yourself today? How does his work on the cross compel you to live with gratitude and joy in your heart today?
Prayer: Lord God, I thank You that You have given us Your Son! I fail to reflect upon Your righteousness and justice, even in my own home. My own attempts at goodness only bring greater despair and condemnation. But Your Son is perfect and glorious! May I live today free from condemnation but filled with thankfulness.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 23
Lunch Break Study
Read James 1:1-4 (NIV): James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Questions to Consider
- To whom does James write this letter and why?
- How are they to respond to the “trials of many kinds”?
- What should motivate their joyful response?
- Application: How can you respond to the trials you face?
The letter is addressed to the “twelve tribes scattered among the nations.” Persecution broke out following the death of Stephen causing many believers to flee for safety to other cities and countries (Acts 8:1-4; 9:1-2). As these Jewish Christians attempted to start life over in new communities, they found themselves facing insurmountable obstacles. Their shops and business were being boycotted. Their children were being tormented in the schools. Their wives were being cheated and hassled in the markets. The citizens of the towns hated them because they were Jews, and the Jews of the towns hated them because they were Christians. The believers found themselves isolated, challenged, and harassed by an intimidating world.
- Naturally, the believers began asking, “Why is this happening to us? Why must there be so many hardships? What is God doing? What are we to think?” Their former pastor, James, heard about their difficulties and wrote to encourage them that they ought to consider it pure joy when facing trials. Though James refers to himself simply as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, he was actually a physical brother of Jesus, born to Mary and Joseph a few years after the birth of Jesus (Mark 6:3). Along with his other brothers, James did not believe in Jesus at first (John 7:1-5), but became convinced after the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:5-7), and went on to become an early leader and pastor of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:12-13; 21:17-18).
- “Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance”: James urged his readers to “consider it pure joy” when they faced trials. He wasn’t suggesting that they greet every difficulty that came their way by exclaiming, “Yea! Isn’t this wonderful?” No, Christians are not to pretend that the sufferings of this life are not real and painful. Rather, they are to find joy in the midst of their sufferings, and they do so when they can say it has not come because of sinful choices; when they trust the Father’s loving purpose in it, and when they can look beyond it to see that coming day when all suffering will be over. Sometimes God’s purpose in suffering is to make our faith strong and to make us more like Christ. One aspect of Christlikeness is patience, a virtue James specifically says is produced by trials. Also, God’s purpose in suffering is always to bring glory to himself. The apostle Peter says faith that is “tested by fire” will at last be found to bring “praise, honor, and glory” to Christ (1 Peter 1:7). How does God receive glory in our sufferings? One Christian who has suffered a terrible illness for a long time might say he would not have been able to bear it if God had not been with him to strengthen and help him. That brings glory to God. Another Christian who has suffered financial hardship might say how the promises of God have encouraged and comforted her through it all. When God’s faithfulness to his promises is emphasized, God is glorified. Lastly, we can find strength to face suffering by looking to that unspeakably glorious time when all our sufferings will finally be over. The tears of this life will be wiped away, sorrow will dissolve, and death itself will be finally and forever crushed. Let us never forget the reason we can have this confidence regarding the life to come; it is all due to the redeeming work of our Lord Jesus Christ there on Calvary’s cross.
- Personal response
Three times Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Do you love Me?” In what ways are you falling deeper in love with Christ?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to respond patiently when I face trials and difficulties. Help me to deeply understand that You are producing perseverance in my life that will lead towards maturity in Christ. May that understanding produce insurmountable joy in my heart. Amen.