Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on March 4, 2016, is provided by Pastor Mark Chun who is the Lead Pastor of Radiance Christian Church in S. F. He is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS, biology), and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Suffering for Christ”
Acts 5:33-42 (ESV)
When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.
In his farewell speech to the disciples, Jesus states clearly, “No servant is greater than his master and if they persecuted me, they will persecute you”. As we are faced with the suffering of Christ and the call to pick up our cross and follow Him, an important question arises: What does it mean for us, surrounded by all of this affluence, comfort and anti-Christian sentiment, to suffer for the sake of the Gospel?
In answering this question, one of the problems we face is that we could never imagine God asking us to suffer for His name. So when things are going well, we feel pretty good about our relationship with God. However, when things turn for the worse, if there is any ounce of discomfort or suffering, we are often quick to question the purpose of God. The words of Christ from the cross reminds us that we haven’t even begun the first lessons of trusting in our heavenly Father until we have moved through deep seasons of pain and anguish. This is often when our relationship with God is put to the test. Can you commit your spirit, your entire life into the hands of your Father in heaven even when it comes at a price? The logical question that we need to reflect on today is, “If God asked his natural Son to suffer for His name and for the purpose of love, would He not ask his adopted children to do the same?”
And here, some of us might wonder, how can a loving God allow his children to suffer? How does a good father willingly and knowingly put his children at risk? Well, the answer to that is very simple: We are not living in peacetime. There is a war that surrounds us, a war for the ages, between good and evil, right and wrong, love and hate, and ultimately life versus death. Any good father would proudly enlist his children into that struggle and with a grieving heart, even risk their well-being for the purpose of winning a just war. And in the same way that God asked His only begotten Son to suffer for the sake of gospel, he asks his spiritual children to do the same.
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for the examples of men and women both past and present who have paid the highest price to live out their faith. Help us to remember that there are many brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t live in the relative ease and comfort that we enjoy in the West. We lift up the persecuted church in prayer and rejoice that your people have been found worthy enough to suffer for your name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 12
Lunch Break Study
Read Romans 5:1-5 (ESV): Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Questions to Consider
- What does it mean to be justified by faith?
- What are the benefits of being justified in the eyes of God?
- How is justification and glorification connected in the Christian life?
- Justification by faith is a central doctrine of Christianity. It is the belief that through our relationship with Christ and faith in his work on the cross, we are found to be righteous in the sight of God.
- The main benefit of being justified is having peace with God. However, justification is more than the forgiveness of sin; it comes with the promise of our glorification, that one day we will be made to be like Christ. Many confuse justification with simply the negation of debt that leaves us with an empty account. The biblical view of justification is that our accounts are positively filled with the righteousness of Christ by the grace of God. This is what theologians refer to as the imputation of righteousness to the believer.
- Between justification and glorification, the believer enters into the process of sanctification or being refined in holiness. One of the ways that God produces this growth in the believer is through the use of suffering. We rejoice in times of suffering because we can see the endurance, character, and hope that it produces in us. Furthermore, if we know that we stand justified by grace, we know that our suffering is not judgment against our sin.
Are you going through a difficult time or is someone that you know suffering? Pray that God would give you joy and hope during these trying circumstances? Remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28)!