January 5, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on March 24, 2016, is provided by Pastor Jason Sato who, along with his wife Jessica and three young children, serves in Japan as an AMI missionary.  Jason, a graduate of UC San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), moved to Tokyo in 2022 where he plans to, the Lord willing, plant a church. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Believers and Money”

Acts 11:27-30 (ESV)

Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. [28] And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). [29] So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. [30] And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

According to the Catholic Church, the seven deadly sins are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride.  While we will readily confess to some sins on this list, others we may admit, though with reluctance or a bit of embarrassment.  But there is at least one which we tend to be completely blind to— greed.

How many times has someone confessed to lust, sloth or pride in your small group?  Now, how many times has someone confessed to greed?

In today’s passage, God has revealed a coming famine through prophecy.  The disciples hear God speak, and they act by collecting relief and sending it to the brothers and sisters in Judea—this is undeniable.  The part where there might be some debate is the phrase “everyone according to his ability” (v. 29).

A couple years ago, a friend of mine was speaking to a pastor he knew about a church that could not continue to pay its mortgage and was forced to close its doors. After hearing this, the pastor simply said, “The pastor of the church could have sold his house.  Then the church wouldn’t have had to close.” 

“Ability” is not measured in percentages or dollar amounts and in that way it is hard to quantify.  However, we should understand that giving “according to our ability,” or with our whole hearts, is a question of maximum, not minimum giving.

To our discomfort, the Scriptures frequently speak about money.  Is it because God needs ours?  I don’t think so.  Jesus states simply, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  God is not interested in our money for its own sake but in our trust (will God take care of us?) and in our love (do the needs of others matter as much as our own?).

Prayer: Father, thank You that You are the Provider for me and my family.  May finances not be a matter of fear or idolatry but a means to demonstrate my trust in Your promises and my love for the world.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 5


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 19:5-10 (ESV): And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” [6] So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. [7] And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” [8] And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” [9] And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. [10] For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Question to Consider

  1. In light of v. 8, what was Zacchaeus willing to do because of his love for money?
  2. What does Zacchaeus do in response to Jesus’s acceptance of him?
  3. Why is Zacchaeus able to make such generous use of his money?

Notes

  1. Zacchaeus was willing to sin and defraud others because of his love for money.  He was also willing to be ostracized and separated from his people and religion.
  2. He receives Jesus joyfully and offers his goods to the poor and restitution for those he has defrauded.
  3. Because he has found acceptance and salvation in God.  In light of these things, money is no longer the most important thing to him.

Evening Reflection

Consider, what could maximum giving look like in your life?  What fears, desires, or plans make such giving seem impractical?  Pray that God would address these heart issues in such a way that you could give with the joy of Zacchaeus.

May the Lord give you eyes to see and courage to follow.

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