January 13, Wednesday

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“An Army of Brothers and Sisters” 

Philemon 1:1-2a

“Paul . . . and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— 2 also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier . . .” 

I know a pastor in his mid-50s, who still keeps in touch with his college buddies, who all happen to be in the ministry, through an annual retreat just among themselves.  Not only do they reminisce about the past, but also share insights for life and ministry; and they pray for one another.  One cannot help but feel somewhat envious, especially seeing their photos.

From the inception of this country, Americans have always valued individualists, who did it “My Way” without needing anyone’s help.  Nothing can be further from the biblical truth than this misguided notion that we can do it alone.  That certainly wasn’t the apostle Paul’s way: young Timothy was his brother; Philemon, a convert under his ministry, was now his dear friend and co-laborer; Apphia was his sister and Archippus, a fellow solder.  That’s what you call an army!

As a missionary in Mexico for eleven years, I served alone.  Since the brunt of my time was spent writing courses, perhaps, it was necessary.  And it was not as if I had no friends: several Mexican pastors whom I taught became really good friends and my wife will always be my best friend.  However, at the latter end of my stay there, I began to long to serve the Lord with others.  No doubt, that is one main reason I joined the family of AMI in which I no longer stand alone.  After close to ten years of serving, I can truly say I have gained new brothers, fellow workers and soldiers who serve with me; even better, they care about me.  Paul put it like this: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it . . . that its parts should have equal concern for each other” (1 Cor. 12:27, 25b). 

How about you?  Are you a proud Island outwardly but lonely inside?  How about visiting your church’s family or cell group this week and begin to really connect with others?  The first step is always unnerving but in no time you will feel at home.  Hopefully, as you interact with others in earnestness, you will gain an army of brothers, sisters, and friends who will walk and serve with you.  Do it His way.  

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I thank you that you are not only my Savior and Lord but also my friend (Lk. 5:20).  I thank you that as a believer, I am part of your body with many parts.  Help me to be a better friend and brother (sister) to those who feel lonely and alone.  And when I feel like that, send someone who will care for me as well.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 15

Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Cor. 12:20-5b:As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment.  But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body . . .” 

Questions to Consider

  1. What are some attitudes that cause someone to dismiss others as if they are not that important? 
  2. What is God’s response to someone who acts that way toward others?
  3. Can you recall a time when someone whom you didn’t think much of ended up teaching you an important lesson?  What lesson did you learn from it?


  1. One factor is a superiority complex, which really is an inverted inferiority complex.  Anyone who has to disrespect or dismiss others to demonstrate his importance to others is an extremely insecure person.  
  2. God is saying that each person, no matter how pathetic an individual may appear, has value, particularly in the body of Christ; therefore, we shouldn’t easily discard him.  One is this: God prefers to use lowly and weak persons for His work to shame those who think they are mighty and strong, in order that the world may know that God is the one who did it  (1 Cor. 1:27-9).  In this way, people will put their trust in God, not in people.
  3. I learned from this wheelchair bound Mexican pastor, who always was joyful despite his condition that led to over sixty operations to fix his fractured bones, that I complain too much over little things.  

Evening Reflection

Of course, we cannot expect to make a life-long friend over night, right? But were you at least friendly toward others today?  What kept you from being friendly or nice to others?  Perhaps, in light of Romans 12:16—“live in harmony with one another”—we can do better tomorrow.

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