Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on January 30, 2014, is provided by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Wrestling of a Different Kind”
“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.”
“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”
Really talented people may not be particularly caring, while truly caring people may not be most gifted. If you can invite only one person for an upcoming trip, who would you ask? I guess it depends on the nature of the trip: to close a deal, the talented one; a personal journey, the caring one. Better yet would be a friend who embodies both characteristics, perhaps like Epaphras.
The Colossian Church was one congregation that Paul did not plant; in fact, Colossians had “not met [Paul] personally” (Col. 2:1). The person who founded the church in this Asia Minor city was Epaphras from whom they “learned” the gospel (Col. 1:6-7). Apparently, this man was quite talented, or at least very energetic, since Paul stated that Epaphras was “working hard . . . for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis” as well (Col. 4:13).
On top of that, he deeply cared for the Colossian believers since he wrestled, that is, agonized (from the Gk. agōnizomai) in prayer from them. Just how much did he care for them? Enough to travel over 900 miles from Colosse to Rome (and then back) to get some answers from his mentor Paul for troubling doctrinal matters (Col. 2:16-23) that threatened his congregations. That’s dedication and a lot of care.
During the course of our faith journey, everyone gets discouraged from time to time. So, be an Epaphras: a caring person who agonizes in prayer for the discouraged and is willing to pay them a visit. And when someone is questioning his faith because of doubts, whether theological or intellectual, may you be like Epaphras, who “researched” hard to find apt answers so that the doubter may be “mature and fully assured” in their walk.
And when you are the one going through a difficult period, may an Epaphras be sent to you, to pray for and instruct you, so that you “may stand firm in all the will of God.” May you be loving enough to give and humble enough to receive.
Prayer: Father, I confess that I have been selfish and uncaring, thinking almost exclusively of meeting my own needs than those of others around me. Thank You for always forgiving me and giving me other chances to serve You and Your people. Please hold me accountable, Lord, to be real in my walk with you. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 50
Lunch Break Study
By the time Paul went to Corinth alone, he was tired and beaten from his tough second missionary trip.
Read Acts 18:1-3: “After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them”; Acts 18:18a: Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila.”
Rom. 16:3-4: “Greet Priscillaand Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. . . .”
Questions to Consider
- What did it mean for Paul to meet Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth?
- Use your imagination here: In what sense did Priscilla and Aquila risk their lives for Paul?
- How were their talents instrumental in caring for Paul? Are you using yours to do the same for someone in need?
- Paul was weary from nonstop traveling, constant persecution, and probably not eating well. Staying at this couple’s home meant Paul could recuperate and be recharged (e.g., home cooking) for the next mission.
- The risk of accompanying Paul meant that at any moment, his friends (like Priscilla and Aquila) could be persecuted along with the apostle. Since the trips were often difficult and demanding, that also carried its risks.
- The fact that they had the same trade (making tents) likely aided their initial acquaintanceship, and working together certainly forged a lifelong relationship. As a result, Paul was greatly helped.
Review your day in light of this morning’s theme: Did you get to use your talent to care and love someone? Did anyone do that for you? Write up a brief journal of you day.