April 2, Thursday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), is an updated version of his blog first posted on February 28, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Avoid the Bible’s Unintended Effect”

Psalm 19:12-14

By [God’s laws] is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors?  Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

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Inventors are often horrible predictors of how their inventions would eventually be used.  Consider Gutenberg (1400-68), a devout Catholic, whose invention of mechanical movable print led to the Printing Revolution.  Its social impact was greater in scale than that of the internet because, overnight, staggering number of printed books became available for the common people to read—including the Bible that the Catholic Church once placed on the list of forbidden books. Unbeknownst to Gutenberg, he inadvertently played a key role of ushering in the Protestant Reformation rooted in the belief that every believer should read the Bible for him- or herself.     

The same can be said about Christian schools.  Sure, sending our kids to Christian schools is a blessing, but it has certain drawbacks (i.e., unintended effect).  When young people, without any personal experience with God, regularly study doctrine and memorize verses as part of classroom activity (which is possible because we all have bibles—thanks to Gutenberg), this familiarity, in time, can breed contempt for sermons, as in “I heard that before” or “I already know it.” As a result, the heart becomes unresponsive to God’s word and the Spirit’s leading.  I would dub that as “the Bible’s unintended effect.”

But today’s Psalm shows why God said that David was “a man after my own heart.” In short, he was like a child before God, hiding nothing and always desiring to please the LORD in all that he did, including every word he spoke.  We know all too well David’s failures later in his life, but we also know that he always found his way back to God, confessing his sins and seeking forgiveness.

Knowledge, of which our brain has plenty—again, thanks to Gutenberg, and now the internet, can puff us up, but with a broken and contrite heart, God will not despise (Ps. 51:17).  How is your heart?  Has it hardened? Ask God to soften it!  Then read the Bible which will now become the nourishment to your soul.

Prayer: Dear LORD, I lift up Your holy name on high this morning in recognition of Your patience and tolerance.  How many times have I been inattentive to sermons, thinking that I knew more than the preacher or I heard this before. God, thank You for forgiving my haughtiness; please replace it with the heart of a child so that I, too, can become a man after God’s own heart.  Amen.

Bible Reading for TodayActs 1


Lunch Break Study

Read Matt. 22:23-30: The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” 29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Questions to Consider

  1. Jesus made this statement to the Sadducees.  Who were they (look it up) and why was this remark so stunning?
  2. Jesus made another stunning statement, this time to the Jews who knew the Law (Jn. 5:37-40, 45-47)?  What does this imply?
  3. Merely having the right info about God is not enough; our heart needs to be like God’s.  What does it look like (Mt. 18:1-5)?

Notes

  1. The Sadducees were a religious party (of Judaism) of learned men who accepted only the written Torah as their authority and rejected all “oral” Torah or later traditions.  In some sense, they held the “conservative” line of interpretation because they heavily emphasized the first five books of the OT. What was so stunning was that Jesus said to these learned men that they didn’t know the Scriptures.
  2. A similar thing happened here: While acknowledging that the Jews have diligently studied the Scriptures, Jesus stated that they didn’t actually believe anything they had read and studied.  Had they believed, then they would have accepted Christ since Moses wrote about him. This implies that merely having the right knowledge does not result in faith; rather, it may become quite harmful.
  3. The heart that God wants us to have is the heart of a child, i.e., a humble heart. (“Whoever humbles himself like this child . . .”). That means we are never too spiritual to not repent and never too smart to not learn from others.

Evening Reflection

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Have you gotten much out of Sunday sermons recently?  Before blaming the preacher, let’s examine our own hearts.  Did some things (e.g., attitude, habit, preoccupation) already predispose you from really listening and engaging with what was said?  Be honest.

Meditate: “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” Where is your heart?

Anyway, another day has come and gone, and for some of us, hearts remain restless. Why?  As you recount this day, share your thoughts here.

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