REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 27, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
Malachi 3:16-7 (ESV)
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. 17 ‘They will be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’ 18 So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.”
“Ichthus,” said the man who knocked on the door. The owner of the house knew then that the one who just said “fish” was a true brother. During the time when early Christians were under constant persecutions by the Roman Empire, that word was used as a code to identity whether the visitor who came to join the worship service, which often met at homes, was a true believer.
Not too long ago, when Christians were actively persecuted in communist countries, a story was told of Christians trying to protect themselves from infiltrators. Once, an underground Christian meeting was ransacked by the gun-toting secret police who shouted, “If you leave right now, we won’t kill you.” Many left, leaving behind only a few who were ready to die for the Lord. But to their surprise the gunmen said, “Let’s worship God since we are now with true believers.” While such intense persecution against the faithful probably did not happen in Malachi’s time, it appears that those truly who feared and served the Lord were so few that God responded to them in an extraordinary manner.
How did these believers manage to sustain such an indomitable faith? I recall a missionary doctor to Africa, who was rescued from being martyred in a matter of seconds, saying that no one can really prepare for martyrdom. But at that decisive moment, God will give the strength to remain faithful and we need to respond in bold faith. What may be the best indicator for those who will choose God in that moment? Someone who has multiple degrees in theology, written many Christian books, or even has a mega-church? No, but it will be someone who loves the Lord. Apostle John, who suffered for his faith during the persecution of Emperor Domitian (81-96) in Ephesus wrote, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 Jn. 4:18a).
So, how is your love for Christ? Does he still have to vie for your time? Does he have your undivided attention? The present is always the best time to rekindle our love for Christ, who not only died for us but is alive today, interceding for us on our behalf. Reflect. Pray.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, how utterly sad that we humans continue to hold you in contempt, not giving you the love and loyalty that you so deserve. Yet, because of the Holy Spirit who resides in us, we have been sufficiently empowered to testify of your greatness to the unbelieving world. I love you, Lord, but I want and need to love you more. Help me, O God, to do that because I am unable on my own. Thank you. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 17
Lunch Break Study
Read Matt. 26:31, 33-5: Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’” . . . 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
Matt. 26:69-75: “Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’ 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, ‘I do not know what you mean.’ 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’72 And again he denied it with an oath: ‘I do not know the man.’ 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know the man.’ And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.
Questions to Consider
- What makes Peter’s denial of Jesus all the more stunning?
- What are some ramifications of Peter’s bold statement prior to his denial and the denial itself?
- What does it mean that Jesus reinstated Peter (Jn. 21:15-9), allowing him to follow Jesus even after the denial? What do you think it did for the apostle?
- Only a few hours earlier, this rugged man of the sea boldly expressed his love for Christ, vowing that while other may deny him, he himself will not. The one who prompted the apostle to deny Christ was not some scary looking Roman soldier but a servant girl. What an irony!
- One is this: no matter how faithful we have been to the Lord, we can commit that unfathomable sin if we cease from fixing our eyes on Jesus. We really aren’t that trustworthy, for apart from Christ, we “can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).
- Yes, our God is a God of a second chance. He gave a second chance to David, Mark, and even Paul who thought that he was doing God’s work by persecuting Christians. As for Peter, this incidence really fostered his love for Christ. How could it not?
Today, did you find yourself in a situation (or conversation) in which you could have spoken on behalf of God and His word? What happened? What did you learn about yourself? Pray for boldness.