REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Doug Tritton, was first posted on May 6, 2016. A graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), Doug is the UC site pastor of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.
In his book Reaching Out, Henri Nouwen talks about the three movements of the spiritual life, one of which is the movement from loneliness to solitude. Nouwen says that this is a “movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit, from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search.” Essentially, solitude becomes an attitude of being humbly sure of oneself – strengths, weaknesses, foibles, desires. And ultimately, in this posture of solitude we can be ourselves in Christ with nothing to prove.
Looking at this passage in Acts, we see Paul before the Jewish council, saying “I have lived my life before God in all good conscience….” This may seem like an arrogant statement, but in reality, Paul was just stating honestly what he knew of himself. He had no fear of what he had done; he had nothing to prove. He knew himself and he knew his calling. And because of this surety of himself in Christ, this solitude of character, he was able to endure the beatings and ridicule.
In our day, we often can be led down the slippery slope of proving oneself. Social media provides numerous outlets for us to present a handcrafted image of ourselves. But this causes us to lose sight of who we truly are, leaving us in a place of fragile loneliness. These “outward-reaching cravings,” using the words of Nouwen, become distractions from becoming our true selves in Christ. In this state, it would be quite difficult to speak of good conscience as Paul had done.
Let’s seek to make the difficult journey from loneliness to solitude. Let’s look inside ourselves, not with fear at what we may find, but with hope knowing that the grace of God changes us from the inside-out.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You are the One who tells me who I am. Let not the world compete with giving me an identity, but help me to remember that I am Yours. Let me not fear myself, but rather trust in You, the One who is changing me. Have Your way in me!
Bible Reading for Today: Acts 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Romans 8:15-17: For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Questions to Consider
- What is the difference between the spirit of slavery and the Spirit of adoption?
- What does the Spirit of adoption teach us?
- What does it mean to be an heir of God?
- The spirit of slavery brings fear. In that fear, we are never truly sure of ourselves, constantly wondering if we are good enough. But the Spirit of adoption gives freedom. Adoption is a gift, so with this Spirit of Adoption, we simply receive and no longer need to strive to make something of ourselves.
- The Spirit of adoption teaches us that we are children of God. And more than that, it teaches us that we can cry out to God in intimacy, in affection.
- As heirs, firstly, this means we are treasured by God. We are treasured to such an extent that our Father would bestow His riches on us. Further, as heirs we have surety that we belong to God. We have an inheritance in heaven and this inheritance cannot be snatched away.
Think about your identity. To what extent have you been trying to craft your own identity? Reflect on what may have shaken your identity or your sense of security in yourself. Take time to remind yourself that you belong to God— simply say, “Abba Father, I need You.”