REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on July 1, 2016, is provided by Ulysses Wang who pastors Renewal Church in Sunnyvale, California. Pastor Ulysses is a graduate of New York University (BA) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for this Morning
“When You Care”
For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
It’s amazing how much easier ministry is when you genuinely care about people. They tend to open up. They share more. They invite you into their lives. The famous evangelist D.L. Moody once told the story of a young boy who walked five miles every week to get to Sunday school when he could have easily attended any of forty other Sunday schools that were closer to his home. The boy’s reason: “Because they love a fellow over there.”
When Paul says that he is with the Colossians (as well as the Corinthians – 1 Cor. 5:3) “in spirit,” I believe that the crux of what he is saying is that his heart is with them – that they were very much in the forefront of his thoughts and concerns. This seemed to be a consistent theme in his life and ministry: “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). I think that this would prove very challenging for many of us, especially those of us who fall more into the “out of sight, out of mind” personality camp. Ditto for the task-oriented as opposed to the relational types among us. Yet we cannot escape the heart of Christian ministry – “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Many of us begin Christian ministry by doing as opposed to loving, but as we mature, we realize that loving is what we really need to be doing. This is not easy. Paul had to remind his flock: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). But this is unnatural because our sinful flesh is constantly elevating the priority of loving ourselves. Caring for others in an authentic way is so counterintuitive, that Paul wrote, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 2:19-21). Even for Paul, who served alongside many Christians and knew countless more, Timothy was a diamond in the rough because he really cared.
Prayer: God, teach me how to love others. Forgive me if I am more prone to use others or to treat them like objects or projects. Because You are love and I am in You, I believe that I can love as You love. Help me to slow down. Help me to see people. Help me to be moved with compassion by their stories, to be broken by their tragedies, and to feel their joy when they rejoice. Help me to be less individualistic and to be more communal in the way I view the body of Christ. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 17
Lunch Break Study
Read Mark 6:30-34: The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Questions to Consider
1. What was Jesus’ original motivation for taking the disciples to “a quiet place”? What ended up happening when they got there? Why?
2. How flexible are you with your schedule when you encounter others in need?
1. Jesus wanted the disciples to have some time to rest, but when they got to the destination, they ended up ministering to the people there. Jesus’ “compassion” trumped His tiredness.
2. Schedules are important, but people are more important.
“Love must be sincere.” – Romans 12:9.
So, how is your love? Search your heart—ask God to reveal to you one person to whom you really need to show God’s love.