April 7, Tuesday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), is an updated version of his blog first posted on February 1, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“If Only It Were So Simple; No, It Rains on Everyone”

Habakkuk 3:17-18

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

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Although the following incident occurred 38 years ago, during my first attempt as a youth pastor in Los Angeles (1982), it always pops into my head whenever I read the parable of the wise and foolish builders in Matthew 7:24-27 (see Lunch Break Study).

One day, Freddie, who was in middle school, showed me his drawing of this parable; in short, it was too good to be true.  Torrential rain came down only on the house built on sand (i.e., the foolish builders) and the wind beat against it; but the sun shined on the house built on the rock (i.e., the wise builders).  Although I didn’t know the Scripture all that well at that time, I knew enough to see that Freddie’s Christianity was way off.  However, it didn’t take long to see that Freddie was not alone; in fact, a whole theology is built on the notion that God only blesses and prospers His people.  Giving credence to Freddie’s belief that rain comes down only on not-always-wise/faithful believers, I soon heard one famous preacher say, “If I walk rightly, and if I walk in line with the Word of God, I’m thoroughly convinced I can be free from sickness and disease.”

No, as I corrected Freddie, this preacher was dead wrong (Gal. 4:14; 1 Tim. 5:23; 2 Ki. 13:14).  While God, who sees and knows all things about us, abhors unrighteousness, a scorching wind will come upon the righteous as well as the unrighteous.  Of course, what many of us are facing right now—amid staggering economic losses prompted by COVID-19—is more like a tsunami.  That said, for those who are in Christ, there are always many happy exceptions, even in the bleakest times, and things could have been worse.  Nevertheless, people who assume that the true believers are immune from facing the travails of life will solely be disappointed and disillusioned.

The ultimate question boils down to this: What is our life built upon?  Is it upon the solid foundation of faith in Christ or ephemeral things like physical appearances, possessions or positions?  And that’s what Habakkuk, a prophet to the Israelites in the 7th century B.C., faced as he came to realize that God was going to judge the wayward Israel by way of using the mighty Babylonians against her.  Here, it behooves us to ask: Is our faith strong enough to withstand the toughest trials in life?  What does a strong faith even look like?   Read the Habakkuk passage again: being reduced to having nothing but Jesus and yet still rejoicing over that fact alone! Yes, we join Peter who “said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith’!” (Lk. 17:5).

Prayer: Dear God, it’s so easy to see my faith as an insurance policy just in case something goes wrong.  Help me to see that You are not in my life to always keep me from losing the things that I value, but to keep me from coming apart when the things that I value and the people whom I love are no longer there. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 7


Lunch Break Study

Read Matt. 7:24-27: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Questions to Consider

  1. How does putting God’s words into practice result in a solid foundation that withstands life’s trials (Heb. 5:13-4)?
  2. How does Peter’s fall (Matt. 26:36-41, 66-75) show the truth of this parable when God’s word is not put into practice?
  3. What keeps us from putting God’s words into practice (Heb. 2:1; James 1:22-4; Lk. 12:11-3)?

Notes

  1. To prepare for Hurricane Sandy in 2012, I checked my generator, thinking that it had plenty of gasoline; it was empty.  Had I tried to use it after the power was lost, it would’ve been completely useless.  Likewise, an untested faith is useless when facing difficult moments in life because there is no spiritual traction to get a firm footing to withstand the test. But by constantly using God’s teaching to deal with life’s issues, we learn how to distinguish good (holding onto God no matter what and trusting in Him) from evil (abandoning Him by depending on earthly things to get through tough times).
  2. Despite being told to persevere in prayer to avoid falling into temptation, Peter didn’t put what he heard into practice by giving into his sleepiness. The result was devastating: his faith fell with a great crash when he denied to a servant girl, no less, that he ever knew Jesus.
  3. The man in Lk. 12:11-13 didn’t hear what Jesus taught (suffering for God) because he was preoccupied with his own agenda (i.e., getting his share of the family inheritance).  Unless we give up our own agendas (for personal enrichment) we will always be distracted and remain as inattentive listeners.

Evening Reflection

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What we have been dealing with today is the matter of trust: Do I trust God enough to put His words into practice even if this may result in my loss?  What are some issues that you are wrestling with God at the moment?  What do you need to do in order to put God’s word into practice regarding the issue that you’re presently struggling with?   

As you review your day, was there a moment when you clearly had a chance to put into practice what you learned from God’s word?  What happened? What did you learn from it about your faith?  Pray!

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