April 3, Friday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Cami King who serves as associate pastor at Remnant Church in Manhattan.  She is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“What Is Our Witness?”

Acts 1:8; 2:5-13

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” . . . 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

photo-of-person-holding-green-leaf-1029844A topic of much discussion at the present moment is how will churches respond to our current global crisis. There are those who feel we waited too long to close our doors (signaling a lack of consideration for the surrounding community) and others who feel churches shouldn’t close their doors at all (because it signals faithless and fear). There are those who believe we should all just stay at home (respecting city mandates out of care for our neighbors) and others who feel it’s our duty to be out and about looking for ways to serve. There are those who feel we should double down and lean into the Lenten Season, not focusing so much attention on the anxiety of a global pandemic (because God knew it was coming) and others who believe it’s best to embrace the present moment, abandon all regularly scheduled programming and lean fully in (because can move uniquely in this time).

There are many convictions, judgements and opinions, many of which are valid, albeit varied, and rooted in the best of intentions. Yet at the heart of them all is the issue of witness. How will the church bear witness in a season of suffering and uncertainty? You may have heard stories of Early Church Christians who responded to plagues by staying behind to care the sick, almost always at the expense of their own lives. Their witness has stood the test of time – their actions a tangible and distinct display of God’s love. While we’re not facing a plague and we thankfully have modern healthcare systems that can, for the most part, support the sick during a pandemic, the question of witness still stands.

When we think about our Christian witness, we often think in terms of something we should be doing. But the New Testament usually uses “witness” to describe what Christians are. In other words, our lives are saying something about Jesus regardless of what we do. Thus, witness is not primarily a matter of doing (figuring out the right thing to do amid crisis), but a matter of being (what we call in the Church Christian formation). Are we the kind of people God can move through when the need arises? Better yet, are we the kind of people God is already moving through for the sake of the life of the world?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You have sent me into the world to be a light and a blessing. May my faithfulness in even the most menial tasks and during the most trying times be pleasing unto You and a blessing to those around me. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 2


Lunch Break Study

Read Hebrews 12:1-3, 12-17: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart . . . 12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. 14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

Question to Consider

  1. What is the context of the instructions above? (i.e. what does the writer mean when saying “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses?) Why is this important.
  2. What instructions are given in verses 1-3? What is the difference between weights and sin?
  3. What instructions are given in verses 14-17? What’s at stake if believers fail to heed these warnings?
  4. In what ways do you need to strengthen feeble limbs and make straight paths for your feet (verses 12-13)? What are the weights slowing you down? What are the sins over which you need victory? In what ways do you need to pursue peace, extend grace, or practice self-discipline?

Notes

  1. In the previous chapters the writer of Hebrews outlines a list of believers who leveraged their lives and ultimately died in faithful anticipation of God’s redemptive work in the world (God’s plan of salvation through Jesus and coming Kingdom through the Church). Their stories give us hope and confidence as we do the same.
  2. (1) Throw of every weight and the sin that clings closely. (2) Run with endurance – we do this by fixing our eyes on Jesus who is not only the object of our faith but our greatest example of a faithful life. Sin is missing the mark of God design for creation or falling short of God’s law. Sins are specific and well-articulated in the Bible. Weights, on the other hand, can be neutral things, even good things, that are simply hindering our ability to run well the race before us (distracting or restricting our ability to faithfully follow Jesus).
  3. (1) Make every effort to live in peace with everyone – if we don’t, it will be hard for others to see God through us. (2) Be gracious with one another – if we don’t, bitterness and division will rise up and destroy fellowship. (3) Do not be controlled by the passions of your body or self-indulgence – if we are, we risk missing out on the blessings of God.
  4. Spend time in prayerful reflection.

Evening Reflection

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Let’s end day by way of reflecting on Acts 2:44-45.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

What do you think it means for believers to be together and have everything in common? What, if anything, keeps you from this kind of radical togetherness? How can you live out the heart of these verses in your present context?

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