September 26, Saturday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), is an updated version of his blog first posted on March 30, 2013.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Hearing God’s Voice from Unlikely Sources”

Luke 19:40

“If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” 

Much of what we read and hear every day (office gossips, silly blogs, strange teachings) can easily be dismissed, but when God speaks to us through unlikely sources, it needs to be discerned as such and then we need to heed it.  

Augustine the great theologian (350-430) is known as a saint, but he was anything but that before his conversion.   What turned him around?  While crying out to God in a garden in Milan over his many sins, Augustine suddenly heard a voice of a child nearby saying repeatedly, “Take and read; take and read.”  Quickly grabbing his New Testament, he read Romans 13:13-14, which says, “Let us behave decently . . . not in sexual immorality. . .  Rather, clothes yourselves in the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”  Shaken up spiritually, it was there and then that Augustine the great sinner began his trek back to God.  

Certainly not to that level but I experienced something similar that led to a change of mind (i.e., repentance).  In 2008, while serving in Mexico where my principle ministry was providing extended education for pastors, I heard God through an unlikely source.  Closely working with the Baptist pastors in Chihuahua, Mexico, they also included me in the list of Baptist pastors where names were randomly picked to preach at different churches on a pulpit-exchange Sunday.  Not wanting to be assigned to a church far from home, often requiring several hours to drive, I asked the lead pastor, (also a good friend) to take my name out of that list, which he obliged.  However, the Holy Spirit began to speak to my conscience, saying, “You don’t mind flying 15 hours to teach in Vietnam but you don’t want to drive for two hour to preach?”  Is it not glamorous enough for you?  The next day, I informed the lead pastor to put me back in the draw.  A few days later, he called to inform me that I was picked to speak at a church nearby my home: a congregation inside the infamous CERESO prison where most hardcore criminals were incarcerated.  

I had first gotten involved with this ministry in 2005 through my home church in Mexico. A team of us would go there every Friday night and teach the inmates for an hour and fellowship thereafter. After two years, a church was organized inside the prison because many had become believers, which meant that we would go there every Sunday afternoon to hold worship services.  But, I stopped going because, among other reasons, I often preached at other churches on Sundays; thus, I had not been there for more than a year when I returned to preach.  After preaching in front of more than 100 inmates, a prisoner named “Mata” (meaning “kill” in Spanish; ironically he was convicted of murder), after telling me how blessed he was to hear from me, wanted to know why I had stopped coming.  Caught off guard, I responded, “I’ve been very busy,” to which he said, “I guess we aren’t as important to you.”  Sounding defensive, I reassured him that that wasn’t so.  In response, Mata calmly said, “Then please come here at least once a month to preach because we need to hear from you.”  That’s how I ended up preaching there once a month from then on until 2010, when visitation was no longer allowed due to the escalating violence inside the prison.  

Yes, while we hear and read many useless things, remember that God may speak to you through unlikely sources, even stones!  You need to obey that one, much like Jesus who obeyed his Father to die on the cross for the “sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2). 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to discern Your voice in our lives, and then give us the strength and willingness to heed what we have heard.  May we be obedient children to the Father.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today:  2 Chronicles 26-27

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