March 22, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 13, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“We Say This Word a Lot—Without Comprehension”

Philem. 1:7a

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement . . .” 

Col. 1:3a-4

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ  . . . because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have all the saints.”

“You would do that for me?  Why?”; “I didn’t expect that!  Wow!”; “I don’t deserve this.   Thanks!”  These things are said when we are so touched by the unexpected kindness by someone, perhaps at the most unexpected time.  

One virtue that many talk about without really comprehending it, is love:  No, not the feeling or affable type, but the kind where favors are bestowed on an unworthy person.  In the English language in which the word “love” is used to describe our feelings toward French fries as well as toward God, this isn’t an easily concept to grasp.  But in the Greek exists a special word—agape—to conceptualize unconditional love.  Conceptualize?  Yes, it was a mere concept among the ancient Greeks until someone actually demonstrated what this love truly looked like.  Paul puts it like this:  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).   A great favor was bestowed upon us when God allowed his Son to take the blame for something awful that we did, and then pay for it with his own life.   

Philemon 1:7is actually about Paul appreciating the love he received from Philemon in Colosse, who was able to “love because [God] first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19).  When this reality truly sinks in, our hearts are joyous regardless of how terrible our present circumstances may be.  We are greatly encouraged, knowing that the One “who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:32). 

All things?  A new car perhaps, a better job?  Sure, if you need it, for God promises to “meet all your needs” (Phil. 4:19a); but don’t get more excited about getting things from God than being loved by Him.  Unless we have authentically internalized the reality of the God of the universe personally knowing and loving us, we cannot love others that would make them truly joyous and encouraged.   It all starts from God. 

Prayer: God, it is amazing how I sometimes act as if I deserve the things that I continue to receive from you.  Perhaps, I compare myself to others who aren’t doing so well, thereby feeling superior, spiritually and morally. Forgive me Lord, for my joy ought to come from knowing that the amazing love of God was bestowed upon the one so undeserved, namely, me, in Christ.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 9


Lunch Break Study

Read Hosea 3:1-3: “The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.’ So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, ‘You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.’”

Questions to Consider

  1. In what sense does Hosea demonstrate agape love in his overture toward Gomer, who ran off to be a prostitute (property of a pimp)? 
  2. What is expected of Gomer after receiving this unexpected and undeserved love by her husband (Rom. 2:4)?
  3. Ultimately, what is the story about as it relates to what God did for men and what He did to free them?

Notes

  1. Of course, the last thing Gomer expected was forgiveness and reconciliation; she didn’t deserve it and she knew it.  In this way, Hosea, through the strength that God gave him for that occasion, demonstrated the unconditional love of God.
  2. Romans 2:4 states that God’s expectation for those who have been showered with the kindness of God is repentance; that is, turning away from the sinful way. Hosea expects Gomer to be faithful to him.  
  3. Ultimately, God allowed this event to happen to symbolize what He will ultimately do for humans who have always rebelled against God by refusing to submit to His rule.  Instead, they serve themselves or men more powerful than they.  What Hosea had to pay to free his wife represents what God paid to free us—the life of his Son.

Evening Reflection

Did you have a joyous and encouraging day?  And I don’t mean just because fortuitous things happened to you today.  As you conclude this day, write out a prayer that expresses your gratitude toward God for what He did in Christ for the undeserved.  

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