August 14, Wednesday

Devotional Thought for Today

“Why Disciplines?”

Hebrews 12:7-11 (NASB)

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

DisciplineI can recall during my second year of college my dad took it upon himself to cut me off financially. Through that point in my life my dad had taken care of me and made sure I always had what I needed. We were not financially well-off by any stretch of the imagination; however, my dad worked hard, saved and always found a way to make things work. My dad paid my expenses during my first year of college and made sure I had a little spending money. All he wanted me to do was work hard in school. However, that all changed after my first year ended. To make a long story short, my dad told me I was no longer a good investment and I was now on my own. He was no longer going to pay my tuition or cover my living expenses. He said I did not have to go to college if I didn’t want to and I was welcome to move back home. But if I wanted to stay in school and live on my own, I had to figure out how to make it work. I thought that was a very sudden and harsh thing to do, but to my dad my grades were not up to par and I was squandering his hard-earned money.

At the moment when this happened I panicked. I thought how my dad could do this to me? There was no grace period, no warning…just like that I was cut-off. Though his method was harsh, I realized much later in life that this was one of the greatest lessons my dad taught me. What I saw as cruelty from my dad was actually him loving me. He could have easily continued to pay for my tuition, and I could go on as I was. However, in reality I needed this life lesson. I needed to learn to stand on my own, be responsible for myself and trust that I would be able to handle the most difficult of situations. My father knew me best and knew that I needed to learn how to stand on my own. As his child he was loving me by taking away my safety net.

In yesterday’s quiet time I shared about our identity as God’s children. We see from today’s passage that as His children, He disciplines us. (vs. 7-8). Discipline can take many forms. Sometimes, it is corrective, it can be preventative, or it can be instructive. Whatever the form of discipline, we must see that, as His children, He will discipline us. It is because He truly loves us that He has to teach us the way. Have you ever seen a child who completely lacks discipline? It is not a pretty sight. The discipline from our Heavenly Father is not a punishment, but a demonstration of His love for us. Our earthly mothers and fathers discipline us. How could we believe that our Heavenly Father wouldn’t? In verse 10 we see the reason for the discipline. It is for our own good so we may share in His holiness.

We have to understand that God wants us to share in His holiness. The discipline we receive is training in order for us to incorporate His holiness into our lives. Discipline differs from punishment in that discipline stems from God’s love for us. Punishment is God acting as a judge but discipline is God acting as a loving father. As a loving father, He offers guidance through discipline in order that we are able to share in the glory to come.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for disciplining me so that I can improve in all areas of my life, particularly in the area of loving and trusting You. Remind me to respond appropriately, in humility and reflection, so that I can share in Your holiness. Amen,

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 3


Lunch Study Break

Read Proverbs 3:11-12: “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof, 12 For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.”

Questions to consider

  1. Why should we not reject God’s discipline?
  2. Who does God discipline?
  3. Recall a time that you believe you were disciplined by God. What was the lesson learned?

Note

  1. God’s discipline is born out of His love for us. The corrective action is to allow us to join in His holiness. (see Heb. 12:10). To reject His discipline would be to reject His love for us as His children. It shows great wisdom to accept His discipline.
  2. God disciplines those whom He loves. As His children we will be disciplined. Not because He wants to punish us, but His love demands that He does.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

In what ways has God’s discipline shaped your life and your faith? Are you able to see that it is truly because of His love for you that He has to discipline you? Spend some time in prayer and thank God for His loving touch in your life.

August 13, Tuesday

The AMI QT devotionals for August 13-14 are provided Joe Suh who serves as a pastor intern at the Church of Southland (Anaheim, California). Joe, who was a practicing attorney in the area of civil litigation, is currently enrolled at Talbot School of Theology. He and his wife Betty have been blessed with two beautiful children.  

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“Who Am I?”

I Peter 2:9 (NASB)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light . . .  

Understanding who we are is of the utmost importance.  Our identity is what defines us and is ultimately a driving force in who and what we are.  However, very often our identity as we see it is wrong, distorted, and taken from the wrong places.  Generally, most people are not self-aware, and they are unable to see who they really are.

Often, we feel that we should define ourselves by our careers, financial or marital status or even the successes in life.  Sometimes our identity is found in our failures, disappointments and the shortcomings of our life. However, whenever we find our identity in the worldly things we do and possess, we do not understand who we truly are.

For a long time, I found my identity in my career path.  At one point in my life I was an attorney. I actually liked it when people asked me what I did for living because I felt a certain pride in saying that I was lawyer.  I felt there was prestige in my chosen career path and it artificially pumped up my ego. I know that this was sad and lame, nevertheless, for some reason I did find comfort in it.  But in reality that was not who I was; rather, it was what I did.  My career is not my identity—my relationship with Jesus is.

Ultimately, for those who have faith that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, our one and only identity is “Child of God” (See Galatians 3:26).  No matter what we do or what stage in life we are currently at, the truest explanation of who we are is defined by our relationship with Jesus.  

In our verse for today, Peter is quoting from Exodus 19:6.  He is reminding us of our true identity and that we are to be separated from the world.  Really think about what is being said here. We are set apart in order to proclaim who the true King really is.  On our own we do not have standing to be a part of the “holy nation”, however because of our relationship with Jesus, we have a seat at the table and are able to live out the calling in our lives.  

By His righteousness we are able to stand before God and be called His children.  So no matter what we do or don’t do, no matter what we have or don’t have, our true identity is precious child of God! Amen!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that in Christ I’m able to stand before You and be called Your child.  Thank You that no matter what I do or don’t do, no matter what I have or don’t have, my true identity is found in You alone as your precious child. Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 2


Lunch Break Study

Read Galatians 3:26-28: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Questions to Consider

  1. When we trust in Jesus for our salvation, what do we instantly become?
  2. Why is Paul stressing that there is no distinction between race, status or even sex?
  3. What does it mean to you to be one in Christ Jesus?

Notes

  1. When we have faith in Jesus as our Savior, we instantaneously become sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.  This is an important distinction because Jesus is the perfect son sent by God the Father to intercede for all of us.  Once we believe, we too are able to stand as God’s children.
  2. In God’s Kingdom there is no separation of race, status, class or sex.  We are all one people. We are all one in Christ. We are God’s chosen people.  We are only identified in Christ and He lives in each of us.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

As you continue your journey of faith what does it mean to be a child of God?  What is the significance of your true identity? How does it affect what you do and how you live?  Take some time this evening to pray through these questions and ask God for clarity and direction. I pray that each of us will find new purpose and conviction in living out our lives for Jesus!

August 12, Monday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Charles Choe (Tapestry Church in Los Angeles), was originally posted on December 1, 2014.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“The Wiser Way: Keeping a Lid on It”

Proverbs 13:3 

 “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” 

Talking has never been difficult for me. In just about any conversation, I would look for airtime or attention from others. I would be listening, but largely with the intent to angle for an opening, to find an opportunity to speak, to show off how much I know or how funny I can be. Thank goodness it’s been a few moons since then and I have grown somewhat in this area.

In the book of Proverbs, Solomon in all his wisdom, chooses to come back to the mouth, lips, and tongue. Solomon teaches us that guarding our lips is guarding our very life. The man who speaks with no restraint shows no wisdom. Words are powerful and they are to be used selectively.

When you consider your own life and personality, could you honestly say you value silence and restraint? Or are you quick to quip about whatever enters your mind? We live in a culture where the one who gets his point across the clearest and most convincingly is considered the winner. As Christians, we are called to be subversive by not following the patterns of this world. The Bible insists that there is more power in listening than in speaking.

Part of the reason we are impatient to speak is because part of us believes that we have all the answers. We have a tendency to fix things, usually with good intentions, but sometimes we just need to keep our lips together and listen. By listening longer and weighing the opinions a bit more, we are communicating that we do not know it all or have everything figured out.  

Consider this when a brother stumbles and falls. We are so quick to tell others of the law, but how often do we portray the Gospel? How often do we show the love of Christ? We have to trust that, in your listening, the Holy Spirit is working and is going to show them God’s heart. If you are trying to speak just to make your point, you will miss that quiet voice of the Spirit. There is nothing wrong with saying nothing and speaking another day after considering the matter. You don’t have to win every discussion.

Prayer: Lord, help me to listen. In listening more, may Your Holy Spirit speak more to me. Guide me through every conversation and discussion today for Your glory.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 1


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 18:15-20: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. [16] But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. [17] If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. [18] Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [19] Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. [20] For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the reason why you would bring two or three witnesses is to help a brother who is sin?
  2. Why is it important to disengage with people who are unable to listen to correction?
  3. One of the things that plagues most Christian communities is the inability to handle confrontation, disagreement and our mutual accountability when it comes to sin. How well do you do this in area? 

Notes

  1. To listen better and to repent of sin.
  2. They dilute and misrepresent God’s holiness and such standard can spread like yeast to the body of Christ.
  3. Respecting leaders is a matter of the heart. We often get hurt when they admonish, but we must learn to be admonished from out leaders.

Evening Reflection

A final food for thought. We have two ears and one mouth. Does that tell us something about the ratio in which they should be used?

August 11, Sunday

Today’s blog, written by Pastor Ryun Chang, was originally posted on March 16, 2014.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Imitate Well”

1 John 3:11

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good.”

The former NBA player, the great Charles Barkley, perhaps the only man to slam Shaquille O’Neal to the floor, once said, “I’m not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”  Many critics, assailing his remark as being irresponsible and evasive, reasoned that professional athletes, whose fans include many impressionable children, have obligations to be positive influences in society. In retrospect, it was a good thing Barkley said that, since he later made headlines for running sizable gambling debts and drunken driving.  

Certainly we need role models, especially children.  One Christian author wrote: “Our world is desperately in need of models worth following.  Authentic heroes. People of integrity, whose lives inspire us to do better, to climb higher, to stand taller.”  No athlete fits that bill better than Tim Tebow, who was previously the quarterback for the Denver Broncos. He thanks Jesus after every victory, has committed to chastity until marriage, and helps the poor, such as building a hospital in the Philippines.  Tebow says that for him, the goal of playing football “is to be a great role model that parents can look at their son and say, ‘That’s someone who is trying to do it the right way. . . . He is trying to honor God and do the right thing.’” That’s great and I’m so blessed and challenged to hear that, but if the Bible says anything at all, it is that sooner or later the so-called “heroes of faith” will disappoint their fans. 

The case in point is the aforementioned author, a leading Bible expositor in America who, after talking about the need for true heroes, pointed to King David as being such a man.  One example he gave to vouch for his character is the time when he crept up unnoticed, and cut off a corner of the robe worn by the sleeping King Saul, a man on a mission to kill David.  Afterwards, David, so conscience-stricken by his action, lamented, saying, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him . . . .”(1 Sam 24:6a).   I wonder whether David himself would have felt comfortable with such flattery or with the idea of becoming a role model for people living in the 21st century.  A man who committed murder, adultery, and evasion of responsibility that resulted in the deaths of 70,000 people (2 Sam. 24:12-17) would have probably said, “No, not me.”  

It was said earlier that our heroes in the Bible often disappoint us.  To that extent, Eugene Peterson offered a refreshingly candid view on David.  He wrote: “The narrator refuses to idealize or glamorize him to show that God’s sovereignty works through just such a mixed bag of human failures and sin. . . . The entire biblical story never lets us forget that it is a God’s story of our salvation, not a collection of moral achievements for use as a moral handbook.  This is the narrative of what God does to save us, not what we do to please him.” What does this mean? The life of David is intended for us to get excited about God, who continued to love and use him despite of him! If David were to say anything to today’s evangelicals enamored with him, or any other human heroes, even Tebow, he might have said: “Please, I am neither your hero nor your role model, only Jesus is.”  

I am sure Tebow would agree with that sentiment as well because he understands, as he said in the aforementioned quote (which I purposely left out), “[I’m] not perfect but everyday [I’m] trying to get better, [I’m] trying to honor God.”  Barkley is no hero, not necessarily because of his weak moments on and off the court (for we all have them, including Tebow), but his declaration is to free him so that he could live any way he desires. Tebow’s declaration, on the other hand, is to limit his freedom so that he does not do whatever he pleases; but in order to please his hero, the one whom he calls “my Lord Jesus Christ.”  It’s a good thing to try to be a hero to the discouraged and deprived people “just as [we] also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1b NKJ).  Inasmuch as salty food creates thirst for water, our lives must create a thirst for Jesus Christ who, like an offensive tackle throwing his body to create a path for his running back, gave up his body to save us.  So how is your life? Is anyone seeing Christ through your life? Or have you given that up for more freedom to please yourself? It’s something to think about.

Prayer: Lord, help us to choose our heroes carefully.  Always remind us that Christ should be our ultimate hero.  More importantly, may we dare to be a hero—someone whom young people may desire to emulate—by a way of imitating Christ in his righteousness and love.  

Bible Reading for Today: Haggai 2

August 10, Saturday

Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend, written by Pastor Ryun Chang, was originally posted on March 2, 2013.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“We, too, Are in Recruitment Business

Hebrews 12:14

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

In 2010, when a well-known pastor of a mega church in Atlanta was accused of using his position to pressure young men into sexual relationships with him, he vowed to fight against the charges; later, his wife of 21 years, who had initially stood by him, filed for divorce.  Perhaps she suspected that the allegations were all true since her husband settled the lawsuits with his accusers, although he never admitted any wrongdoing. Then the pastor’s spokesperson declared, “He will continue to serve as the senior pastor” (i.e., without missing a beat).  This decision gives new meaning to what Jesus once said: “The people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of light” (Lk. 16:8b).   

Those who run the Big-Ten Football, which typically generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue, certainly qualify as “the people of this world.”  Thus, when a coach in the conference gets fired, like Joe Paterno of Penn St. or Jim Tressel of Ohio State, it is big news. While the coaches are typically fired for poor performance on the field, neither of these brilliant coaches were dismissed for that; instead, they lost their jobs over an off-the-field issue, the kind that ended coach Gary Moller’s tenure at the University of Michigan in 1995.  

Despite having won many games, Moller was suddenly fired over one incident: public intoxication.  Having lost control after much drinking, Moller was found cursing and swearing, even resisting the police who came to accost him.  Thus, news quickly spread and even casual fans knew what happened. However, the people whom the school officials feared the most were the parents of blue chip prospects who would decide which scholarship offer their son would accept.  Why? First, winning and losing in college football largely depend on recruiting the top players; second, it is the job of the head coach to personally visit them mainly to impress the parents to win their consent.  Cognizant of this, the school officials felt that Moller lost an edge in recruiting because the parents would think twice before sending their kids to be coached by someone behaving like that in public.

How does this relate to us?  Christ called us to be fishers of men (Mt. 4:19) and his “ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Cor. 5:20).  In short, God has sent us out to recruit people to join the kingdom. To be effective in our task however, it will take more than just knowledge and persuasive speech.  The Hebrews writer reminds us that without holiness no one will see the Lord in us, meaning no one will want to join the kingdom as long as we are the recruiter. Perhaps the apostle John had “spiritual recruiting” in mind when he penned, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as he did” (1 Jn. 2:6).  So, how is your walk? 

Prayer: Dear Lord, help my walk with You to be genuine and authentic.  Help me to be holy in Your sight, not through legalism but through a distinguished lifestyle lived out in humility and love. Amen.    

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 25 and Haggai 1

August 9, Friday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Mark Chun (Radiance Christian Church), was originally posted on March 8, 2013.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“The Lord is My Shepherd”

Psalm 23:1-6 (ESV)

 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

The twenty-third psalm is probably one of the most beloved chapters in the entire Bible.  It is classified as a confidence psalm because it describes the absolute trust that David has in the personal goodness of God.   It is not a prayer in the typical sense of that word but rather it is a proclamation of what God has done and continues to do in his life.  

For David, God isn’t merely a theological concept, He is both his shepherd and his host.  These are two images of God that David would have been very familiar with from his own life. As a young boy, David was in charge of protecting and caring for his father’s flocks of sheep.  As the king of Israel, David would have known how to treat guests at his royal table. He applied both of those everyday pictures from his life to connect with God.   

Meditate on how God manifests himself in your everyday life.  What reminds you of God on a daily basis (like the laughter of your kids)?  What are some experiences with God that continue to evoke confidence and trust in Him?   

Prayer: Lord, You alone can guide me through the ups and downs of life.  Help me to follow after You with confidence, knowing that You will lead me to quiet waters and green pastures.  Teach me how to rejoice in your goodness as I spend each morning dwelling in Your presence.  

Bible Reading for Today:  2 Kings 24


Lunch Break Study

Read John 10:11-16 (ESV): “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Who said this and in what context?  (John 9:40-41)
  2. What are the responsibilities of a good shepherd?  (John 10:14-16)
  3. Who is the enemy of the sheep?  (John 10:12)

The picture of the shepherd and the sheep is an important one in the Bible.  For those of us who have spent our entire lives in urban settings, it’s hard to imagine the emotional connection between a shepherd and his flock.  For the average Israelite of the time, this image would have immediately stirred up feelings of care, protection, and sacrifice.  

Note

  1. This is one of the seven “I am” statements from the Gospel of John.  Jesus said these words to the Pharisees who were harassing the blind man that he had healed on the Sabbath.  Without compassion, they had kicked the man out of the temple for his association with Jesus. (John 9:13-16)  
  2. The duties of the shepherd are to know the sheep by name, to protect the flock even with his own life, and to bring other sheep who are not in the fold.  
  3. The enemies of the sheep are the hired hands who have no vested interest in the flock.  As soon as danger comes, they scatter and leave the sheep to defend for themselves because they have no real concern for them.  Jesus was implicating the Pharisees as hired hands who only cared for their own well-being and not the well-being of the people they were called to minister to.    

Evening Reflection

Have you spent some time worshipping God today?  Has life been so busy that you feel like you have no time to spend in prayer?  Try to take a few moments before going to sleep to pray and listen for the voice of God.  Write down what you feel like He is saying to you.

August 8, Thursday

Today’s devotional, provided by the staff of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, led by Pastor Peter Yoon, was originally posted on July 1, 2013.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“That Which Sets Apart King Jesus from All of His Predecessors”

Psalm 72:1-4

“Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. 2 May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. 3 May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. 4 May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.”

Psalm 72 records King David’s prayer for his son Solomon.  In this stage of Israel’s history, the king represented the people before God.  Depending on the faith of the king, the people were blessed or cursed. A king faithful to God like Hezekiah brought blessing, whereas an idolatrous king like Ahaz brought God’s curse.  Solomon reigned during the golden age of Israel’s history, but his descent into idolatry began a downward spiral for the nation.

Thank God that our King who represents us is none other than the Son of God!  Perfect in righteousness, justice, and compassion, Jesus brings prosperity to His people.  He not only begins His life and ministry in faithfulness, but He is perfectly obedient even unto death on the cross.

Meditate upon the perfect righteousness and obedience which Christ has accomplished for you.  How does his work on the cross free you from the need to validate yourself today? How does his work on the cross compel you to live with gratitude and joy in your heart today?

Prayer: Lord God, I thank You that You have given us Your Son!  I fail to reflect upon Your righteousness and justice, even in my own home.  My own attempts at goodness only bring greater despair and condemnation. But Your Son is perfect and glorious!  May I live today free from condemnation but filled with thankfulness.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 23


Lunch Break Study

Read James 1:1-4 (NIV): James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

Questions to Consider

  1. To whom does James write this letter and why?
  2. How are they to respond to the “trials of many kinds”?
  3. What should motivate their joyful response? 
  4. ApplicationHow can you respond to the trials you face?

Note


  1. The letter is addressed to the “twelve tribes scattered among the nations.”  Persecution broke out following the death of Stephen causing many believers to flee for safety to other cities and countries (Acts 8:1-4; 9:1-2). As these Jewish Christians attempted to start life over in new communities, they found themselves facing insurmountable obstacles. Their shops and business were being boycotted. Their children were being tormented in the schools. Their wives were being cheated and hassled in the markets. The citizens of the towns hated them because they were Jews, and the Jews of the towns hated them because they were Christians. The believers found themselves isolated, challenged, and harassed by an intimidating world.
  2. Naturally, the believers began asking, “Why is this happening to us? Why must there be so many hardships? What is God doing? What are we to think?” Their former pastor, James, heard about their difficulties and wrote to encourage them that they ought to consider it pure joy when facing trials. Though James refers to himself simply as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, he was actually a physical brother of Jesus, born to Mary and Joseph a few years after the birth of Jesus (Mark 6:3). Along with his other brothers, James did not believe in Jesus at first (John 7:1-5), but became convinced after the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:5-7), and went on to become an early leader and pastor of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:12-13; 21:17-18). 
  3. “Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance”: James urged his readers to “consider it pure joy” when they faced trials. He wasn’t suggesting that they greet every difficulty that came their way by exclaiming, “Yea! Isn’t this wonderful?”  No, Christians are not to pretend that the sufferings of this life are not real and painful. Rather, they are to find joy in the midst of their sufferings, and they do so when they can say it has not come because of sinful choices; when they trust the Father’s loving purpose in it, and when they can look beyond it to see that coming day when all suffering will be over. Sometimes God’s purpose in suffering is to make our faith strong and to make us more like Christ. One aspect of Christlikeness is patience, a virtue James specifically says is produced by trials. Also, God’s purpose in suffering is always to bring glory to himself. The apostle Peter says faith that is “tested by fire” will at last be found to bring “praise, honor, and glory” to Christ (1 Peter 1:7). How does God receive glory in our sufferings? One Christian who has suffered a terrible illness for a long time might say he would not have been able to bear it if God had not been with him to strengthen and help him. That brings glory to God. Another Christian who has suffered financial hardship might say how the promises of God have encouraged and comforted her through it all. When God’s faithfulness to his promises is emphasized, God is glorified. Lastly, we can find strength to face suffering by looking to that unspeakably glorious time when all our sufferings will finally be over. The tears of this life will be wiped away, sorrow will dissolve, and death itself will be finally and forever crushed. Let us never forget the reason we can have this confidence regarding the life to come; it is all due to the redeeming work of our Lord Jesus Christ there on Calvary’s cross.
  4. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Three times Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Do you love Me?” In what ways are you falling deeper in love with Christ? 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to respond patiently when I face trials and difficulties. Help me to deeply understand that You are producing perseverance in my life that will lead towards maturity in Christ. May that understanding produce insurmountable joy in my heart.  Amen.