March 16, Monday

Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 24, 2014.  (The last paragraph was added by the editor to respond to the covid-19 pandemic.)

 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“A Very Much Needed Perspective Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic”

1 John 4:13-16 (ESV)

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Wikipedia defines self-sufficiency as “the state of not requiring any aid, support, or interaction for survival; it is therefore a type of personal autonomy.”   Truth be told, we all like the concept of self-sufficiency: to be strong, independent, powerful, and not requiring any help. On the surface, it seems like the perfect human existence until we recognize that it completely negates our need for God.  This is why Martyn Lloyd Jones, the famous Welsh pastor, called self-sufficiency the “sin of sins” and “sin at its height.” As a trained doctor before becoming a pastor, this man had an amazing way of diagnosing the condition of the human heart and the sin that destroys it.  In his evaluation of the sin of self-sufficiency, this is what he had to say:

“The more you imagine that you are perfect in and of yourself and apart from your relationship to God, the greater is your sin. That is why anyone who reads the New Testament objectively can see clearly that the Pharisees of our Lord’s time were greater sinners (if you can use such terms) than were the publicans and open sinners. Why? Because they were self-satisfied and self-sufficient. The height of sin is not to feel any need of the grace of God.”

Abiding in God keeps us from the delusion that we are the authors of our own fate and protects us from self-idolatry.  This passage reminds us that we are to cling on to grace by confessing Jesus as our Savior and allowing his Spirit to dwell in us.   As we do that, we can experience the unconditional love that God has for us and continuously live within His abiding presence.  

And as the coronavirus pandemic is turning our world upside down right before our eyes, we are quickly realizing that no matter how rich and endowed we are (being able, therefore, to do anything we desire), the way we have been perceiving ourselves—self-sufficient and self-autonomous—is a mirage. So, let us wash our hands, help those in need, and turn to God as our ultimate sufficiency in Christ.   

Prayer: Lord, teach us what it means to abide in You.   Help us to avoid the sin of self-sufficiency and to remember that we are completely dependent on Your grace for all things.  And through this coronavirus pandemic, prompt the world to look to You for salvation, even as we entreat You to bring it to a halt.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 48


Lunch Break Study  

Read John 15:1-15: I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does it mean to be fruitful?  
  2. Why is it important?
  3. How can we ensure fruitfulness in our lives?  

Notes

  1. Fruitfulness in the Christian’s life can be measured by inner life change, such as growth in character and devotion as described by the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, and good works such as charity, evangelism, outreach, etc.  
  2. This ultimately brings glory to God and is an evidence of discipleship.        
  3. The only way to bear genuine fruit in the Christian life is to abide in a love relationship with Christ like a branch connected to a tree.    

Evening Reflection

Are you bearing fruit in your life?  Do you feel like you are abiding in Christ?  Take some time to renew your relationship with God and pray that He would produce fruit in and through your life.