April 30, 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 February 13, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“A Mixed Bag Christian”

Psalm 17:1-3

Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer —it does not rise from deceitful lips. 2 May my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right. 3 Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.

bogdan-yukhymchuk-tIvWsbppj5k-unsplashIntroduction: When facing life’s difficult moments, we say awful things we wouldn’t normally say.  Freddie Mercury, in “Bohemian Rhapsody, sings, “Sometimes I wish I’d never been born at all.”  That’s so sad and awful.  As difficult days lie ahead for many of us in the aftermath of COVID-19, let’s guard our tongues: instead of self-inflicted curses or complaining, let’s express words of appreciation and gratitude.  With that in mind, read todays’ blog.

Inspired by this psalm of David— “I have resolved that my mouth will not sin” —some may vow to never sin with their tongues.  A good try but that’s not going to happen, for James declares, “If anyone who is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, but no man can tame the tongue” (James 3:2, 8).

Even a cursory look at the life of King David would indicate how he fell short of his vow; that is, at times, David was guilty of deceitful lips as well, like when he was being duplicitous with Uriah, the husband of the woman with whom he sinned.  While David was telling Uriah, whom he had just summoned to the palace from the battlefield, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back” (2 Sam. 11:12), the king was plotting to murder him.

Nevertheless, most of the time, David handled himself well as seen in his dealing with the murderous Saul who repeatedly tried to kill him.  Actually, I don’t recall David ever saying anything negative about Saul even though the latter deserved it; in fact, David continued to refer to Saul as “the LORD’s anointed” (1 Sam. 26:11) even after God had long departed from him (1 Sam. 18:12).  Perhaps, David was thinking of his honorable treatment of Saul when he said, “You will find nothing” (i.e., no fault).   

What these mixed data from the life of David point to is the fact that we are a mixed bag; that is, we are going to have good days as well as bad; on some days we are going to act and speak like a saint; but, on our off days, we may give the devil run for his money.  Considering that, what we desperately need to do is to depend on God who is always good and gracious— “There is only One who is good,” said Jesus (Matt. 19:17).  Because God is good, He forgives us when, “with [our tongues], we curse men” (James 3:9) or utter ungrateful words directed at God (Ps. 44:23).  And He hears our prayers not because we are good; nor does He not hear our prayers because we are bad.  God hears us because He is good, for “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (James 1:17).

As many of us need to wade through difficult circumstances in the aftermath of COVID-19, let’s keep the complaints to a minimum; instead, let’s use our tongues to express thankfulness to God on account of what His Son did for us.  And let’s continue to bring our petitions before the Lord, knowing that He always hears us.

Prayer: Dear LORD, I admit that I often come to You with a sense of entitlement. For every good deed I do, I act as if You owe me a favor.  I am reminded today that apart from having been made in God’s image and Your Spirit dwelling in me, I cannot do anything that is remotely good!  I pray to You, not based on my righteousness, but Yours. Thank You!       

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 5


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Corinthians 1:2, 6:11 (ESV): To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours . . . 11  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Paul said that the believers in Corinth were already sanctified (holy). Really? How?  Look at some of their problems (1 Cor. 1:11, 3:1-4, 5:1-2, 6:1, 11:20-21).
  2. On what basis was Paul able to claim this (1 Cor. 6:11; Rom. 4:22-4)?  Can this become dangerous?
  3. Does Paul present another kind of sanctification?  How would you describe this (2 Cor. 7:1; Phil. 2:12)?

Notes

  1. Upon seeing how unholy the Corinthian church actually was, we marvel at the magnitude of Paul’s declaration in 1 Cor. 1:2 and 6:11: “You were sanctified.”  This church was beset by immorality, drunkenness, division, envy, lawsuits, to name a few.
  2. Paul was able to claim this based on the fact that the believers are imputed with the righteousness of Christ; thus, when God sees them through Christ’s righteousness, He sees holy people!  This is called positional sanctification—we are already in Christ, which is true.  However, one danger of this type of positional theology is that it can induce people to be lazy with respect to disciplining themselves to actually live the holy life.  In some cases, this can lead to licentiousness (Jud. 1:4).
  3. Paul introduced the concept of progressive (experiential) sanctification in which the believers are called to actively be involved in their actual sanctification.  Therefore, Paul urged the Corinthians to purify themselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, and the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. But if we aren’t mindful that we’re already sanctified in Christ apart from our good deeds, our effort to sanctify us may lead to spiritual pride.  So, we need both.          

Evening Reflection

stil-BJ_BMDHjxhc-unsplashIn view of what we discussed in today’s Lunch Break Study, consider these questions: Do you think about the need to be holy in your life?  If not, why not?  What are some habits that are keeping you from holiness?

Review today from the standpoint of holiness. What temptations did you face?  How did you handle them?  What did you learn?  Write out a prayer asking the LORD to help you to overcome those habits (thoughts and actions) that are your greatest challenge.

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