March 18, Wednesday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on February 13, 2013, is prepared by Pastor Ryun Chang who is the AMI Teaching Pastor.

 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What Lesson Are You Learning from the Present Crisis?”

Psalm 18:4-6

The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 5 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.

How do you think the coronavirus pandemic, which will eventually pass—meaning the arenas and churches will once again be filled with sports fans and worshipers, respectively—is going to affect your outlook in life for the long haul?  How about this from 1 Timothy 6:17b: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God.”  Underscore the part about the uncertainty of wealth—in fact, life itself!  Who would have thought even a couple of weeks that our lives were going to be disrupted to the degree that it has?  

Many years ago, as I was looking at some old photos, I was rudely awakened to the vicissitudes of life. It was a photo taken in 1983 that showed four happy young singles—my older brother, younger sister, myself and a good friend—three of whom had no idea that “the cords of the grave” would coil around their future spouses: two would die before turning 35 and the other at 43, all leaving behind small children.  

As we age, we quickly realize how fragile life can be. Many turn to drugs, alcohol or other kinds of pleasures, to deal with “the torrents of destruction that overwhelm”; but the Psalmist exhorts us to call out to God for help, because only in Him will we find the grace to bear the unbearable. My sister wrote in the eulogy of her husband (2005): “The anger I thought I would have if God took my husband from me was no longer there because God filled my heart with this incredible peace that passes beyond any understanding and I was so grateful.”  

I suppose the present health crisis isn’t exactly a threat to young people, particularly the millennials, since the coronavirus seemingly doesn’t affect them as much.  Good for you but take in the lesson anyway. What lesson?  Everyone and everything not named God is “so uncertain”; therefore, lean on the everlasting God of the Bible and value each day as a gift from the Lord; use it for good—“be rich in good deeds” (1 Tim. 6:18).  And for some young people, that means staying home instead of going about towns.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize how fragile life can be and that I should not take another day for granted!  Inasmuch as life can be tough, Your grace is more than sufficient to carry me through. God, some-times I get happy for all the wrong reasons; may I find my joy and contentment only in Your Son Jesus Christ.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 50


Lunch Break Study

Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-11: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers,[b] of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Before finding out how this affected Paul, discover what he meant by the “hardships we suffered” (2 Cor. 11:23-8)?
  2. So, how did these distressful moments affect Paul’s thinking on why God would allow them2 (2 Cor. 1:8-9)?
  3. Ultimately, how did these difficult and distressful moments affect Paul’s faith3 (2 Cor. 1:10-11)?  

Notes

  1. We can read about the details of these beatings that Paul suffered in Acts. In Lystra, “they stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead” (14:19); in Philippi, “stripped and beaten,” Paul was “severely flogged” and was “thrown into prison” (16:23); in Jerusalem, “seizing Paul, they dragged him . . . [and] were trying to kill him.”
  2. So, why would God allow these difficult moments that made Paul “despair even of life,” and to feel “the sentence of death?”  At some point, he realized that “this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Suffice it to say, our reliance on God alone is a very important matter to Him.
  3. First, it boosted Paul’s confidence in the LORD; second, it enabled him to be hopeful even in the darkest moments; third, he realized the importance of intercessory prayer offered on our behalf. These are valuable and important lessons that will surely help us to better navigate life; but if we rely on other things during our trying moments, we won’t learn them. 

Evening Reflection

Are you going through a difficult moment, at home, work or even church?  How is that situation affecting you? What do you feel? How was your day itself?  Did you experience any hardship or some distress from work or family? Did you experience God through it? Reflect on God’s promise in 1 Pet. 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  Quietly meditate on this.

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