May 8, Friday

NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Christine Li, who serves as a deaconess at Remnant Church in Manhattan, New York.  She is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Always Loved”

Matthew 3:16-17

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.

siyan-ren-H2f9mcHVl2E-unsplashWhen I learned that shelter-in-place would go into effect, one of the first things I did was make a to-do list. I wrote down chores and hobbies that I “didn’t have time” for before. It turns out that having time was not the problem. Six weeks later, the bulk of what I’d hoped to achieve remains untouched. Instead, I have slept a record amount and watched more TV in several weeks than I did in the last several years. Subsequently, one of my most difficult challenges became processing the deep sense of guilt and shame I’d acquired for wasting this time.

In other seasons, I pride myself on being productive and efficient. As time passed and I felt hopelessly behind with all the things I’d wanted to achieve, I began condemning myself: Staying indoors was a golden opportunity, but I had squandered the gift. Friends challenged whether my own standards of productivity had enslaved me to a vision incompatible with the freedom God gives. I was reminded of this story from Jesus’s life explained through Peter Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. He writes, “We are given a snapshot of Jesus’ understanding of who He is. Heaven opens. The Spirit descends like a dove. And Jesus’ Father speaks audibly: ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased’ (Matt. 3:17). In other words: ‘You are lovable. You are good. It is so good that you exist.’ Jesus has yet to perform miracles or die on the cross for the sins of humanity. Nonetheless, He receives an experiential affirmation that He is deeply loved by His Heavenly Father for who He is.”

Could it be that we are loved even before we do a single thing? Many of us find His acceptance and unconditional love too good to be true; as a result, seasons like these burden us with guilt and shame that we aren’t better. For those who can relate to the disappointment of a seemingly fallow season, I invite you to come back to the Father. He loves you. He loves you beyond what you can do for Him. He will free you from the chains of productivity and help you believe in the easy yoke of His love once again.

God is neither surprised nor derailed by what we have (and haven’t) made of this time, so I urge you not to let it drive a wedge between you and the Father. God does not need our productivity to accomplish His work in the world, but He does want our hearts and our trust in His promises. So today, let’s come to Him, surrender the fruits of this time, and taste the freedom that comes from His unfailing love for His children.

Prayer: Father, I am thankful that I belong to You. You are a good, endlessly good, Father. I confess that I still try to earn Your affection and praise by being useful. Teach me to trust in Your amazing and unconditional love once more. I want to be free in Your love! Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 14


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 15:18-241‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the younger son’s plan to come back to his father? What does this tell us about his understanding of his father?
  2. What is the father’s response like to his son? What does this tell us about God?
  3. Reflect on this passage and put yourself in the younger son’s shoes. If this was your experience, how would you accept the father’s love? In the context of yourself and God, how readily do you accept His love, forgiveness, and restoration?

Notes

  1. The younger son has several methods to try and win back his father. He plans to come back to his father humbled and address all his misdeeds and regrettable actions. He also plans to make himself useful and become a hired servant to earn his keep. The son’s impression of the father is that the father will find it difficult to forgive him, and that perhaps the father’s favor can be curried with usefulness.
  2. The father’s response to the son is such: he has been yearning for the son all this while as he seems him a long way off (v.20); he is filled with compassion (v.20); he hurriedly goes to restore his son with a public display of affection (v.20). Furthermore, the father not only welcomes him back home but immediately restores him to a place of honor and belonging in his household once more. This is an unexpected turn for us, as the father has forgiven all the transgressions quickly, and the father did not hesitate to embrace his wayward son. God’s love is like this – always beckoning towards us, always eager to bring us home, always ready to restore.
  3. Personal reflection.

Evening Reflection

martin-adams-uZZw2vh8eqY-unsplashTake some time to think about today’s topic. How do you feel about accepting God’s love? Are you more freed from guilt and shame? Let’s ask Him to continue to reassure us of His love and make it more of our reality for the days to come.

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