UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on November 16, 2016, is provided by Emerson Lin. Emerson, who serves in E. Asia as a missionary, along with his family, was recently ordained. Congratulation. He is a graduate of University of California, San Diego and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“‘Got to Serve Better.’ Are You Talking Tennis?”
He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining[b] eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
I grew up always loving the game of tennis that I probably spent more time on the tennis court than I did anywhere else. Every day I would train with my coach three to four hours—hitting ball after ball. If there were any issues with my strokes, footwork or serve, my coach would correct me, and we would work on one motion for an hour straight. The goal for all of this training, conditioning, and lifting wasn’t so that I could be healthy, but so I could optimally perform (like serving well) in my tennis tournaments. Today, I want to talk about a different kind of serve.
In this passage, the author describes how the blood of goats and calves can only ceremonially clean a person on the outside. But it is only through the blood of Jesus that we may truly be clean on the inside. However, the author shares that Christ did not come to simply redeem us so we could enjoy this just for ourselves; but he inserts the word “so” (v. 14) to indicate that there is a greater purpose to our redemption—“so that we may serve the living God!”
Many of us—including myself—struggle with a consumer mentality when it comes to our faith. While we may not actively want to become consumers, we naturally default to that state because of our consumer culture: For example, “If I don’t get anything out of small group, it is a waste of time,” or “If the preacher is not intellectual stimulating, then I’m looking for a different one.”
Please understand that it is good to receive from the church and the Lord and grow in our personal faith. But the author of Hebrews states that Christ cleared our conscience so that we may serve the living God! Our goal is not to just build ourselves up but ultimately to make sure that God’s kingdom is being built up.
I encourage you to examine yourself: Are there areas in your Christian walk where you consume more than contribute? Do you feel that you’ve been too focused on growing inwardly? When was the last time you contributed to your small group, large group, prayer meeting, and to the growth of the church? Ask the Lord to help you become a better contributor to His Kingdom.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for redeeming me and washing my sins away. Your love for me wasn’t so that I just stand on the sidelines to enjoy this wonderful gift myself. I want to serve You and contribute more to the growth of Your Kingdom. Help me to be less inward focused and more outward focused. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Hosea 2
Lunch Break Study
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
Questions to Consider
- Why does James encourage his readers to have works with their faith?
- How does James’ example of Abraham reveal the importance of works and faith working together?
- Because faith alone without works is dead. The word for dead, in this context, means “fruitless” or “useless.” God is calling us to be effective ministers in different areas of our lives.
- The Bible says that Abraham believed in God, but it wasn’t just through belief. God tested Abraham’s loyalties through the sacrifice of his most precious thing – Isaac. Faith alone is dead, but when coupled with works, it is obedience.
In view of the theme of being a contributor rather than a consumer, how has this spurred you on to serve the Lord more? Are there areas in church or even in your community that you feel God is calling you to serve? Small group? Worship? Boys and Girls club? Ask the Lord the open doors for you.