REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on May 24, 2016, is provided by Andy Kim who is the Lead Pastor of Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco. Andy is a graduate of Northwestern University (B.S.) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“What Scares Me the Most”
Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.
Car accidents scare me—especially ones that involve rain. My friend describes it as the most helpless moment in his life: He turned the wheel left and right, but the car refused to listen. After hitting a dry patch, the car flipped and rolled on a busy highway. Here’s the kicker: he came out with a small scratch on his head, while the car was completely totaled. In fact, the people that were behind him were a doctor and nurse –they stood watching in shock. Praise the Lord!
This helpless scene is what I imagine when I read this passage. Paul was right—they shouldn’t have gone. The storm reached its peak and any sense of direction or control was lost. They threw over cargo and supplies, along with it their hopes of surviving. Oftentimes, life takes us down a path of flipping and rolling, creating only chaos and uncertainty. Trials and temptations strip us of our hopes and values, as we give up the very things we hold on to so dearly. However, as fire refines gold by removing its impurities, trials refine our character by removing our false securities – that we might find our hope and faith in Him alone.
The men find themselves at the mercy of Paul’s words, but we look to someone greater: Jesus rises to promise us life and to never leave nor forsake us. Timothy Keller put it like this: “Suffering can refine us rather than destroy us because God himself walks with us in the fire.” Though we are crushed, persecuted, and in times, tossed by the waves, we will not be destroyed for He is with us. Just as Paul assures the men that not a single hair will be lost, Jesus commands us to not be afraid. May we remember this, for it is He who is doing a work in us, and that work is indeed good!
Prayer: Father, thank You that You promise to be with me, both through green pastures and the valleys of shadow and death. I confess that I am prone to wander, especially during difficult times. During times of trials, may You give me the strength to endure, and may You refine me so that I may become more like You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Esther 4
Lunch Break Study
Read James 1:2-4: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Questions to Consider
- How should we respond to trials and temptations in our lives?
- Why should we endure such testing?
- How do you naturally respond to trials in your life?
- In the original text, the phrase “pure joy” translates to “all joy.” James writes in a time of religious persecution, and many times those who followed Christ found themselves being unfairly treated. Trials come in the form of situations out of our control to ultimately test our faith. Some scholars even argue that James is referring to an eschatological joy in the return of Jesus. Regardless, we are to take joy in suffering, for it is both temporary and a work that He is doing in us.
- While perseverance is a fruit of being tested, it cannot be the end goal. Warren Wiersbe writes that God’s purpose in trials is to perfect our character and develop our maturity in Christ. James does not say “if” but “when” we go through trials to show that as believers, we cannot escape suffering. However, it is evident through the lives of others in the Scriptures that suffering is for a divine purpose that He only knows. In many cases trials are the prerequisite for God’s will being furthered in our lives.
- Many of us turn to other vices or people of this world to escape, but God invites us to face our trials by His strength.
In John 15, Jesus says that we are His branches, and that He prunes us so that we may bear fruit. What are the areas in your life that He is pruning? Spend some time asking God to give you a teachable heart to make you more like Him. May He give you the strength to endure through trials and temptations so that you may be more complete in Him.