April 19, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 24, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The Redemption Business”

Philem. 1:15-17

“Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.”

In May, 1981, I left home in Virginia for sunny California, not to seek God but to party.  Little did I know that I would become a believer within five days, and then end up living in the golden state until heading to Mexico in 2000.   Whenever I would visit home thereafter, it was always hard saying goodbye to my tearful mother.  Yet, she would remind herself and me that the separation was for a good purpose, for my aimless life had become quite purposeful. 

Paul, too, saw that: a brief period that had separated Onesimus from his master Philemon served both men well.  Although the separation resulted from of an unlawful act by Onesimus (running away), nevertheless, it became the doorstep to his redemption: a slave to his master has now become his “fellow man” and “brother in the Lord.”  As for Philemon, while the absence of his slave was an economic setback, yet, the separation presented an opportunity for his faith to deepen, as he faced a choice between seeking retribution against his runaway slave who also stole from him, or his restoration.  

The apostle Paul was confident that the one whom he considered as my “dear friend and fellow worker” (Philem. 1:2) would do that right thing.  Why was Paul so confident of this?  No, it wasn’t because he had an inside dirt on him to coerce his compliance; rather, Paul was confident of Philemon’s recognition that those whose debts have been cancelled by God “should . . . have . . . mercy on [their] fellow servant” (Matt. 18:33). 

As you begin this day, you may be facing dire consequences of having made choices to seek pleasure, or to do something unwise, even unlawful in the past.  Perhaps, you are ready to give up on yourself, but God isn’t.  He is into the redemption business.  Go to the Lord today in penitence and humility.  That’s always the first step toward restoration and redemption. 

Prayer: Dear God, thank You for not having rejected me for who I used to be and what I used to do.  Thank You also for Your continual acceptance of me, in Christ, even though I still struggle at times with my unhealthy habits.  I am so encouraged to be reminded that You are a God of redemption.  Continue to lead me, teach me, and even rebuke me so that I may be more like Christ.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 41


Lunch Break Study

Any and every bad situation can be the doorstep to our redemption.  

Read John 8:3a-5, 7-11: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery . . . 4 and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ . . . . 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who h  eard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11 ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared.  ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”

Questions to Consider

  1. In what way could this day have been the worst day of her day?  
  2. In what sense did this day turn out to be best day of her life?  With respect to Onesimus, what turned out to be the best of day of his life?  What has been the best day of your life?
  3. If those accusers were really honest with themselves, what lesson did they learn that day? 

Notes

  1. The public humiliation that she was facing would have been pale in comparison to what her accusers intended: executing her by stoning.  Returning to Philemon could have been the worst day of Onesimus’ life had his master prosecuted him.  Obviously, there is no mercy in both cases.
  2. Instead of condemnation, this woman received forgiveness and a brand new lease on life. Having been redeemed in this way, she, like Onesimus, was placed on good ground to leave the life of sin. My best day of my life is the day Jesus found me! (May, 1981).
  3. They would have realized the truth of James 2:10: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”  In other words, they were lawbreakers just as the woman caught in the act of adultery. 

Evening Reflection

Each day, we ought to separate ourselves from people (including our family) to spend time alone with God.  This is as good a time as any to do that.  Reflect on today as you talk to God for a better tomorrow.

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