January 31, Friday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, originally posted on May 3, 2013, is written by Pastor Matt Ro who formerly pastored Journey Church of Atlanta.  

 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The War is Already Over!” 

Psalm 47:1-2; 8-9 (ESV)

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! 2 For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. 8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. 9 The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!

There is a story of a Japanese man found on a deserted island many years after the end of World War II.  There he was, still defending the island for Japan; it was not easy for his rescuers to convince him that the war had been over for over a decade!

Often, we can do the same thing.  Vv. 1-2 remind us that in the present time, God rules over nations and brings them down when they depart from his ways and arrogantly exalt themselves. The story of King Nebuchadnezzar teaches this forcefully as this powerful ruler was judged and humbled by God who relegated him to insanity.  Even his son Belshazzar, amid his decadent party, saw the fingers of a human hand appear and write on the wall, “Numbered, numbered, weighed, divided”; through this God announced the end to Belshazzar’s reigning. At least they knew that their reigning had ended, but so many people, not knowing that God has already “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them into open shame, by triumphing over them in [Christ]” (Col. 2:15), still live in bondage.

Vv. 8-9 are prophecy.  It will happen one day, and we look forward to it.  Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come.” All of history is moving towards the completion of Christ’s victory.  God is building His kingdom by calling out a people to himself. There is nothing in life more important or more wonderful than belonging to that kingdom.  God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.

How would you live differently if you truly believed that and acted upon it?  Be convinced in your heart that even before the first ball is tipped off, the cheers of victory have already begun.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I pray for a victorious spirit as I begin this day. You have already won! You are always in control of our lives. Help us to trust You more and more. We praise You and thank You for Your amazing love that endures forever. Amen.


Lunch Break Study

Read Ephesians 1:15-23 (ESV): For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Questions to Consider

  1. What do you think the phrase “having the eyes of hearts enlightened” means?
  2. This entire passage, except for v. 23, is one long, run-on sentence.  Why do you think Paul literally boasts of Christ in this way?
  3. Paul models encouragement in his prayers for the Ephesians.  Is there someone in your life who appreciates you the way Paul appreciated the church in Ephesus? By God’s grace, commit to being an appreciative person.  Take some time to identify some ways you can be an appreciative person.

Note

  1. The human eyes are instrumental to visually perceive things.  However, Paul uses an odd metaphor—the eyes of the heart—to reveal that the mind/heart also has eyes.  In the context of Ephesians 1, Paul is saying that when you listen to truth, your mind needs to grasp it and the heart needs to see and understand it as well.  In Scripture, the word “heart” is often used to refer to the seat of our emotions.  When two disciples were walking to Emmaus and the risen Lord appeared to them (Luke 24), Jesus unfolded the entire Scriptures to them concerning the promised Messiah.  “31And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’”  Here, the “burning of the heart” refers to the heart’s eyes being opened to truths in a way where the heart comes to life and is deeply moved. This must be our burning desire as Christ’s disciples.  Our hearts begin to burn with truth, taking root in us, and we must respond to His presence and our calling.  
  2. Have you ever bragged on Facebook?  Did you go on and on about a game, your child, or something that happened to you that today?  One reason we brag is because we feel unappreciated, and we can become obsessed about telling others what we have done.  But ultimately, worldly boasting is an unhappy path to take. Rather, when we “boast in the Lord,” (2 Cor. 10:17), that is, authentically living out our faith before the world, we become God-centered, and when we receive God’s appreciation, we can start loving people and not use them.  
  3. Faithful prayer shortens one of the longest distances known to humanity, which is the distance between our head and our heart.

Evening Reflection

A life in which the eyes of our hearts are not enlightened, we feel hopeless, impoverished, and lacking strength. On the other hand, I have personally experienced the eyes of my heart being enlightened, as I lift them up to see GOD and Him being at work, and all that HE is doing in and around me; the ways that He answers my prayers for the church ministry.  Think about all the ways that God is at work in your life. Do you see things that are invisible to the human eye? Take time to acknowledge ways that the eyes of your heart have been enlightened.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, open the eyes of my heart.  I see that for that to happen there must be the bending of the knee and the imploring of the Spirit in prayer, so that truth becomes vital and compelling.  It isn’t enough simply to know about you, but to KNOW YOU.  Move from my head, down to my heart, so that the will is properly motivated.  Help me to become an appreciative, boasting (Jer. 9:23-4), and encouraging person.  Amen.

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