June 24, Saturday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 19-25 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland.  Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles).  He is married to Christina.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 10:5-7

Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven,  6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, 7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.

Over the last few years, I have been attending a lot of weddings. Watching this couple whom I’ve known since their freshmen year, thinking about all the things that they struggled through and overcome, how they have grown in faith, and how they continue to fight the good fight even now, has been such a blessing. It has reminded me of so many good times we’ve shared, but also, the dark times we treaded together, trusting in the Lord. This is one of my favorite parts of pastoring—walking through the different seasons of life together. But as many of you can probably relate, this also means confronting many situations where we are left thinking, “Why did this happen, Lord?” or “I believe You are good no matter what, but why is this really necessary?” And unfortunately, there is no cleanly packaged answer to these questions.

We see in the passage this grand angel of the Lord that we are introduced to at the beginning of this chapter, and He who lives forever and ever makes an oath. The angel declares that there will be no more delay, that the mystery of God is finished. Commentators note that when we read mystery of God, it doesn’t primarily mean something hidden or kept secret, but rather it means act of divine knowledge being revealed to man. Paul similarly talks about the mystery of God in Ephesians as the revelation that Jews and Gentiles are now fellow heirs and members of the same body. The angel declares in the Name of the Lord that these things will come to a finish, that is, to completion.

Brothers and sisters, take heart, for there will come a day where all the questions of your heart will be answered. There will come a day where all the things you have been through, including all that you have suffered and endured, will find its answer. There is a finality to these things. And although that ending should cause the unrepentant to fear, for those who are in Christ, it is the moment that we have been longing for.

Prayer: Father, thank You that not only my life, but all of history has been in Your hands. Thank You that all that has happened and will happen has been according to Your perfect plan. Help me to live not as one bogged down by what I see right before me but live with the hope of what is to come in mind. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Haggai 1-2

 

June 23, Friday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 19-25 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland.  Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles).  He is married to Christina.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 10:1-4

I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.”

I’ve mentioned C.S. Lewis’ sermon The Weight of Glory in a previous quiet time, but there is a picture that Lewis draws for the believer in how to grasp the kind of glory God has designed us for. Lewis writes, “To please God… to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness… to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”[1] The burden he writes of the glory of being God’s masterpiece is something beyond what we can imagine.

There is something unique about this next chapter of Revelation that reveals the kind of glory that we have come to participate in. So far, whenever we have read of angels in Revelation, most of the focus has been upon their actions; this time, John takes extra time to describe in detail the characteristics of this other angel. Commentators note the language used to describe where his feet are placed (an identifying characterization of the angel repeated throughout this chapter). He is described to have the sea and the earth under his two feet, displaying his towering figure and the dominance he has over the world. His voice, like a lion, roar along with seven peals of thunder. Needless to say, the appearance of this angel (especially from John’s now shifted view from earth) is impressive.

A few things to consider: this letter was written to the first century churches where they had incredible, violent oppression from the outside and divisive heresy from within. To the world, the church was a tiny, insignificant group of people, but to those whose eyes are open to the spiritual reality, we see in this angel just how great the kingdom of God truly is. The powers at work for God, and therefore, for the church, and the power of the good news that is proclaimed, stretches across all land and sea as the angel stands above them. The church, though seemingly insignificant in the eyes of the world, must realize that we are a part of a kingdom of utter glory and power.

Brothers and sisters, may you be encouraged today as you recognize the grandness of the Kingdom that you are a part of. Through your union with Christ, you are now part of a God’s glorious Kingdom that cannot be shaken. Yes, we are called to fend for our faith and the church must be a faithful witness to the Lord. But also, we must remember who it is that we are defending.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for allowing us to be part of Your Kingdom that is so glorious and powerful. We proclaim that nothing can stop this Kingdom. Although in the eyes of this world, the church may look like a thing of the past or insignificant, we believe that the church is part of something so much bigger than what meets the eye. Help us to live with that kind of perspective. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

[1] C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, http://www.verber.com/mark/xian/weight-of-glory.pdf, pg 6.

Bible Reading for Today: Titus 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Hebrews 12:22-29: But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

Questions to Consider

  1. Verse 22 begins with the conjunction “but,” which causes us to look to what has come just before the passage. What comparison is the Hebrew writer making?
  2. In verse 25-27, what will happen when the Lord once more shakes the earth and heaven? What does this reveal about what remains, that is, God’s kingdom?
  3. When you think about what it means that in Christ, you are a citizen of God’s Kingdom, how does this change your perspective on how you view your life?

Notes

  1. A contrasting is happening here—one that has been done throughout the book of Hebrews. The writer is comparing how God once related to His people in the times of Moses (where they could not even come close to the mountain of God lest they be struck dead) and now, in Christ our great Mediator, we are able to join in the assembly of God’s Kingdom.
  2. The Lord declares that He will once more shake the earth and heavens so that only what is unshakeable (meaning, only the things that have been made perfect and righteous) will stand. It is a picture of God’s Kingdom that is holy and pure, a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, one whose King is a consuming fire that will devour anything that is unrighteous.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

One of the greatest challenges of life is fighting the temptation of being consumed by the things of this world—to make our lives all about our jobs, our families, our achievements, or even our struggles. But as you have reflected upon the awe-inspiring Kingdom of God whose King is for you, how has this challenged your perspective on life? Engage your imagination and see how God has made you part of that Kingdom and how that challenges the way you view your current circumstances.

June 21, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 19-25 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland.  Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles).  He is married to Christina.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 9.1-5

Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man.

If you spend any amount of time online, you will see how drastically things have changed over the years in order to secure information online. Those highlighted scales of password strength, entering in the secret code to verify that you are human, two-step and two-factor authentication—these things have become an everyday part of our lives. But the reality is, these methods are in need of constant updating and changing because the security that they offer is only temporary.

The book of Revelation continues with John’s account of some horrific events. A quick note about reading the book of Revelations: this is an especially difficult book to understand as there are many different ways to read it—whether these events are account of things that have happened in the past, things that will happen in the future, or a mixture of both—drawing from all these different perspectives is probably necessary for a fuller understanding of this account. For instance, many scholars debate the identity of this star from heaven which had fallen. Some say it is a fallen angel (perhaps Satan), while others argue that this descended star is the gospel message or even Christ Himself. Though this is probably not the best place for a deep theological discussion, there are definitely things to glean here.

A few keywords to note: given (v. 1, 3), told (v. 4), not permitted (v.5). Are you starting to see a pattern here? Whether this fallen star is indeed the Prince of Darkness or the Prince of Peace, there is an establishment of authority that is over them. Even the locusts that are released—creatures that throughout history have decimated entire villages and communities—are given and not permitted certain things. In other words, despite how overwhelming these things may be from our perspective, there is indeed a God who never loses control over the world.

God is in control, brothers and sisters. This passage is talking about God’s control over the things that face people who do not repent. How much more so for people who have confessed their faith in Christ? Whatever you may be facing now or in the time to come, God never changes. He is and will always be in control. Then that means whatever you are facing, it [1] is allowed by God (though not necessarily caused by Him), [2] is restricted by God, and [3] will result for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8.28). This is our ultimate security—no matter what we may face in life (whether the loss of a job or our Facebook accounts being hacked), God is the ultimate source of our security.

Prayer: Lord, thank You that You are, in Yourself, complete and perfect. You are the Creator. You are the Ruler of this world. Nothing is a surprise to You. Nothing occurs that goes unnoticed by You. And I as Your child can rest in the security. Thank You for being my security. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Titus 1


Lunch Break Study

Read Mark 4.35-41:  On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does Mark tell us about the interaction between Jesus and the disciples prior to their departure for the other side?
  2. What do you think is going on in the minds of the disciples when they face the storm? What can we learn about their understanding of Jesus based upon their response?
  3. Jesus has the power to even command the winds and the storms. How is the Holy Spirit convicting your heart in terms of the winds and storms of your life?

Notes

  1. Before they set sail, note that it is Jesus’ desire and command that they leave and go to the other side. If you flip over to Mark 5, we see that He crosses the sea to heal a man tormented by a legion of demons. Jesus has a mission. He knows that there will be a storm, but Jesus also knows that He has authority over all things.
  2. Plainly, we see that they lacked faith as Jesus says. They looked at the slumbering Jesus and thought that He did not care for them, that He did not care about what was happening. What we see is that the circumstances had become their lord in that situation, not Jesus. Jesus’ display of His authority brings upon the disciples a holy fear of who He truly is—the Lord of even the winds and the storms.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Theologically, we can sort out the relationship between God’s control, God’s allowance, and the circumstances that we face, but to understand in our hearts is another thing. As you have reflected upon God’s authority over all things today, what has God revealed to you about who He is, and secondly, that He is for you? Spend some time worshipping the One who was, who is, and is to come.

June 14, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 12-18 are written by Pastor Andrew Kim at Tapestry Church.  Andrew, a graduate of Eternity Bible College, is currently attending Fuller Theological Seminary.  He and Jessie were married in 2014.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 5:11-14

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

The 60’s were marked by a profound social consciousness. People genuinely cared for the welfare of society and participated in movements of justice. It was the decade of the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s rights, and protests against the Vietnam War. However, there was a dramatic shift in culture in the 70’s. It was no longer focused on culture-wide issues but rather on the self. Historians have dubbed the 70’s the “ME Decade.” It was the era of personal development and self-discovery. As the “individual” began to assert itself, it gave rise to a radical personal autonomy where the “self” became king. Life began to be about self-expression, about being able to choose one’s own destiny. And this trend has continued and we all feel its effects even today. All of us desire to determine the course of our lives—we demand freedom from all authority outside of ourselves. However, this has not turned out well as people are emptier than ever before. Many have discovered that reigning over their own lives has not led to more happiness but rather a deep sense of restlessness and confusion.

In our passage for today, we are given a glimpse of the throne room of heaven. John looks around and sees a myriad of people proclaiming the worthiness of the Lamb. A multitude of creatures are giving due praise and honor “to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.” The elders fall down and worship. It is truly a remarkable vision. And this vision functions as a reminder to the recipients of the letter about who is the true King of the universe. It is not the emperor of Rome. It is the one who sits in the throne room of heaven who ultimately deserves our worship and surrender. In the same way, it is a reminder to us that the one who truly deserves to reign over our lives is God Himself. Many of us attempt to dethrone God in our hearts, trying to make sense of our lives on our own terms. We want to be king. However, history has proven that this is a dead end. We must relinquish our grip on our hearts and allow God to fully reign over us. As verse 13 proclaims, He is the king who is full of power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory and blessing!  For these reasons, we can trust that He will lead us to places of true happiness and joy. Let us resolve to surrender our rights before the true King of the universe and wholeheartedly follow Him!

Prayer: Father, I often want to take control of my life. Help me to trust in Your ways and in Your leading and to surrender all that I am to You. Be King over my life! Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 9


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Mark 1:14-15:  Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the kingdom of God?
  2. How are we to respond to the kingdom of God?
  3. What areas of your life do you need to surrender and allow God to reign?

Notes

  1. The phrase “kingdom of God” literally means: the reigning activity of God. It is the eternal and sovereign rule of God in all of the universe. It is not speaking to an actual geographical kingdom but that God’s ruling power has come in a special way through Jesus.
  2. Jesus calls us to repent (to relinquish our own reign over our lives) and to believe in the gospel.
  3. Personal response.

EVENING REFLECTION

It is indeed difficult to give up control of our lives. It is scary in many ways. One key factor when it comes to surrendering our lives to God is to experience His goodness towards us. As we experience more of His goodness, the more we trust Him with our lives. And we find the ultimate proof of His love and goodness: His death. Tonight, take time to reflect on how Jesus died for you so that you can have life, and that He is trustworthy because He is willing to give up His everything for you!

June 10, Saturday

The AMI QT Blogs from June 5-11 are provided by Tina Hsu. Tina, a graduate of Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.) has just returned from E. Asia, where she served as a missionary for two years.  Currently, she serves at Church of Southland and Kairos International University.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Live as an Overcomer”

Revelation 3:19-22

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

“The one who overcomes” is a repeated phrase throughout Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Revelation.  He speaks to each church about its spiritual condition and calls them to overcome every challenge by faith. Becoming an overcomer is God’s call for every believer. The closing of Jesus’ words to the church at Laodicea helps us to see how He coaches Christians to overcome spiritual lows, whether it be apathy, complacency, pride, hopelessness, or unbelief. As the best athletes and finest scholars in the world receive the best quality training in order to have victory, the Christian is trained to overcome and to live victoriously when he or she receives training from Jesus Christ.

The first element needed for becoming an overcomer is humility—to listen to God’s correction and to trust His love in the rebuke. He corrects because He loves us, and not because He is ashamed of us or dislikes us. In v. 19, Jesus says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline.” When we sit under the counsel of God, we allow Him full access to shape our values and attitudes. The wisdom of God that comes through correction can lift us up out of bondage and the repetitive cycles that we ourselves are not able to overcome.

The second element is opening our “door” to Jesus who is knocking at the door and to enter into a daily communion with Him. The image of Jesus dining with us and sharing a meal is a metaphor for strong affection and fellowship. Jesus invites the Laodicea believers into this intimate space. Though Jesus abides in every believer through the Spirit, the Laodicea believers had shut the door to Jesus in their self-sufficiency and wealth, quenching the voice of the Spirit of Christ. Jesus is knocking at the door of their hearts so that He could return to His proper place of reigning and abiding in them. So today, let’s take heed of Jesus’ words, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with me.” How amazing is it to know that our Lord desires to draw near to us even before we draw near to Him. This morning, spend some time responding to Jesus, and welcome Him into your day.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for Your unrelenting love. Give me eyes to see that You correct and rebuke me because You love me.  You desire for me to experience the fullness of life in Christ. Grant me the ears to hear Your voice so that I may invite You into every area of my life. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 4

 

June 9, Friday

The AMI QT Blogs from June 5-11 are provided by Tina Hsu. Tina, a graduate of Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.) has just returned from E. Asia, where she served as a missionary for two years.  Currently, she serves at Church of Southland and Kairos International University.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

 “Being Rich Towards God”

Revelation 3:14-18

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.

Did you know that God’s desire for you is to become rich? He wills for you to have abundance. The trap that prevents us from experiencing the richness and wealth that God envisions for us is our spiritual blindness to what true wealth really looks like.

The believers in the Laodicea had fallen into a deep blindness of themselves. They had become secure in their material affluence, content about where they had arrived spiritually and proud that they reached a place of maturity on their own. In their eyes, they are rich and have need of nothing. As a result of their self-definition, Jesus is showing them that they have actually become poor—poor in their ministry and service towards others, and in turn, poor towards God. Though they have become ineffective and “distasteful” to the Lord, the Lord is mercifully drawing them back to repentance and teaching them the path to richness. This is how we know that God genuinely desires His children to be rich. In v. 18, Jesus says, “buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich.” He advises the believers to turn to Him to receive spiritual wealth that comes from the molding and shaping that He does on their lives. He invites them to attain from Him white garments so they can be clothed in their identity and true security that comes from Christ. This way, they may become genuinely rich and consequently be rich towards God and others.

Similarly, apostle Paul instructs his mentee, Timothy, to teach the church in Ephesus the same spiritual lesson of being rich in God rather than in earthly wealth and values. He says in 1 Timothy 6:18-19, “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” It is only by pursuing the type of richness that God defines that propels us to truly live “that which is life indeed” and that which God designed for us.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You that You saved me that I may have life and have it abundantly (Jn. 10:10). Teach and guide me to be rich in You and to find life and fulfillment from Your well. Allow my life to be a vessel of generosity to others so that I may glorify You and be an extension of Your kindness. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 3


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Luke 12:13-21: Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” 16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21 So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the root issue that Jesus is drawing out to the man in vv. 13-15?
  2. How does the rich man in the parable live his life?
  3. What is the spiritual lesson that Jesus is teaching through this parable?

Notes

  1. Jesus is pointing to the issue of man’s greed, which manifests itself in striving after material possessions.
  2. The rich man is blessed with an abundance of crops. However, instead of using his resources and gains to serve God and to bless others, he is storing up the resources for himself. He is investing in his own comfort and security.
  3. Everything we have, even the breath in our lungs and our abilities, comes from God. Everything is meant to glorify God and to be used for eternal purposes. Jesus is admonishing the man to be “rich towards God” instead of storing up treasures on earth like the rich man in the parable.

EVENING REFLECTION

This evening, let’s spend some time reflecting on Jesus’ words and let Him direct us to invest in what is eternal and lasting. Luke 12:22-23, 31:  “And He said to His disciples, ‘For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing…But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you’”

June 8, Thursday

The AMI QT Blogs from June 5-11 are provided by Tina Hsu. Tina, a graduate of Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.) has just returned from E. Asia, where she served as a missionary for two years.  Currently, she serves at Church of Southland and Kairos International University.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Incomparable and Personal Love of God”

Revelation 3:10-11 (ESV)

“Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.”

One thing I enjoy doing in my church community is listening to older women of faith share about their spiritual markers in life. Their testimonies show me how God met them in a personal and intimate way when they faced trials and seasons of wilderness. I would also hear some share about their thoughts during seasons of waiting: “I know God will do so and so because He told me… He promised me…” I was always really encouraged and challenged by how close they were to God and how God spoke to them in such a personal way—like a father to a child. It made me desire all the more to draw close to God to hear His words and promises for my life. This is the same theme I see in the relationship between the Philadelphia church and God.

God dearly loves this church because they display enduring faithfulness to His name in the midst of persecution, seizing opportunities to proclaim His name. They are small in number but their tenacity of faith is great. God personally promises the church that He will preserve them during the hour of trial that everyone on earth will face at the end times. He will do it because He is so pleased with their faithfulness to Him. God exhorts them to finish the unique path that they have been given – “hold fast what you have” – and they will receive a crown that is specifically prepared for them.

In the Bible, there are promises of God that extend to all children of God, but there are also promises that God gives personally to certain people or a certain church—and this displays how personal our God is. His personal promise gives the hearer hope to finish well. God’s love is not likened to a loving parent who cuts a cake into equal slices so that no child will feel partiality. His love is not distributed into small pieces for each child or church; rather, His love is whole, infinite, and unique towards each person, spurring each person on to live according His perfect will and plan.  What would it look like for you to pursue a relationship with God similar to that of the Philadelphians?

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I praise You and thank You for Your faithfulness to me! Teach me and strengthen me to have patience endurance, that I may express my love to You through the act of perseverance. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 2


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Jeremiah 31:1-3: “At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus says the Lord, ‘The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the historical context of this passage?
  2. What is evident about God’s love in this passage?
  3. In what circumstances have you experienced God’s everlasting and tangible love? Do you hunger to experience God’s everlasting love today? What hinders you?

Notes

  1. God is speaking to Israel through the prophet Jeremiah. The people of Israel and Judah had been in exile for many years as a result of their unfaithfulness to God during the years of living in the Promised Land. God is speaking to them about His enduring faithfulness to those who looked to Him during the years of exile.
  2. Israel experienced a greater depth of God’s love during the times of wilderness and mistakes. God’s love is unwavering and everlasting. His faithfulness is enduring because of who He is and is not shaken by our actions, whether good or bad.
  3. Personal reflection.

EVENING REFLECTION

Before going to sleep, be reminded of this truth about our awesome and unfathomable God: “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you (Isaiah 54:10).   Now, sleep on that!