April 16, Thursday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), is an updated version of his blog first posted on January 17, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Dear Media and Politicians: ‘You Got Nothing on Wenliang, David and Jesus’”

Psalm 7:7-9

Let the assembled peoples gather around you.  Rule over them from on high; 8 let the Lord judge the peoples. Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High. 9 O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.

youssef-naddam-iJ2IG8ckCpA-unsplashWhat irritates me the most about politicians and mainstream media amid COVID-19 pandemic is the tit-for-tat blaming game they all play.  So, to Biden who says, “[Trump’s] delays [are] causing real pain for so many Americans,” Trump retorts, “Obama was slow to address swine flu.” Then there are all typical situations in which the blamers are oblivious to the fact they have done the same thing.  There is no better example than the media’s insinuation that President Trump’s reference to the origin of coronavirus being Wuhan/China borders on racism when, in fact, that’s what the media said at the outset of the pandemic.

If there is anyone who stands blameless in the coronavirus fiasco, it is the late Li Wenliang, a doctor in Wuhan who, after finding a mysterious virus (known now as coronavirus), raised the alarm.  Has anyone ever falsely accused you of doing wrong? If so, you have nothing on Dr. Wenliang because Wuhan police arrested him for “spreading false rumors” and “seriously disrupt[ing] social order.”

And, one biblical character who can truly empathize with Wenliang, is David—who was accused of trying to kill King Saul to take his throne (1 Sam. 24:9).  Look, David wasn’t theologizing when he said, “Judge me according to my righteousness.”  Neither was David saying he was sinless.  It was just a different way of saying to God what he had told Saul: “I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion.  I’ve not wronged you” (24:11).  This worked on that day, but Saul would come back to try to kill David.

Life is like that, sometimes—it seems to only get worse.  The apostle Paul, facing a crisis that, to him, felt like the enormity of COVID-19 pandemic, writes, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death” (2 Cor. 1:8-9a).  But, spiritually, that isn’t a bad place to be (briefly, we hope), since that’s where we usually discover that, as Paul did, “this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raised the dead” (2 Cor. 1:8).

Returning to being falsely accused, Jesus understands how it feels since it was through slanderous accusations that He was put on the cross.  This morning, find yourself in the sympathetic arms of Christ!   

Prayer: Father, thank You for your Son, who, because He Himself suffered, is able to sympathize with me when I am falsely accused.  I cry out to You in my distress.  While I eagerly await for Your deliverance, I’ll continue to enjoy Your presence in my life. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 17


Lunch Break Study

Read Isaiah 64:6*: All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Luke 18:9-14: He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

*What Isaiah said about Israel here resonates with the NT theology of what God thinks about our righteousness: neither sufficient nor adequate enough to get anybody into heaven apart from Christ. (Rom 3:20a: “No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law.”)

Questions to Consider

  1. Surely some live more righteously than others but what’s the NT rationale summed up in Romans 3:20 (James 2:1-11)?
  2. We should strive to live righteously, but what can happen to our hearts if we get too caught up with it (Lk. 18:9-14)?
  3. What can we do to avoid falling into this ego trip (Phil. 3:13; Matt. 6:3; 2 Cor. 10:12-3)?

Notes

  1. For a mountain climber, all it takes is one break in the rope for him to fall to his death.  Likewise, the NT rationale behind why our impressive righteousness cannot save us, is because all it takes is one breaking of God’s law to be declared a lawbreaker. So, have we broken any laws?  Since highly righteous people such as Mother Teresa or Gandhi would have readily admitted to having broken some of God’s laws, none of us stands a chance!  Our righteousness cannot save us.
  2. As our lives improve morally and ethically, we have the tendency to compare ourselves to those who are at the bottom of the moral totem pole, thereby making us look even better!  We become holier-than-thou and start judging everyone!  That’s how our righteousness can become like filthy rags.
  3. Paul suggested two things: first, do good and then forget it; second, don’t compare yourself to others!

 

Evening Reflection

john-forson-ASWBa6z3llw-unsplash

Considering Luke 18:9-14, which we read for Lunch Break Study, with whom do you identify with: the self-righteous Pharisees who lived morally on the outside, or the penitent tax collectors who still might demand extortions (on any given day)?  Where do you find yourself?

What righteous (or, unrighteous) acts did you do today?  What positives did you derive from that? Were there any negatives?  How do you process all this considering that we are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8-9) but our works verify whether we are saved (James 2:24)?

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