DAILY DEVOTIONS

“Living More Nobly”


Devotion

1 Peter 2:19-25 – For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

It’s easy to forget the books of the Bible were written by those who were in the thick of it. The apostles wrote from inside a world that, for the most part, was anything but thrilled with their message. This weird Jesus sect—reviled by the Jews, misunderstood and oppressed by the Romans, scoffed at by the Greeks—was not in the good graces of anyone. And the message they shared—one of enduring through sorrow and physical suffering—was certainly not the stuff to win converts to their cause.

How could remaining steadfast in the face of unjust ridicule or bearing up under persecution be in any way noble, even honorable? Aren’t these things to react against, standing one’s ground in the face of his or her oppressor, even letting it come to blows if it has to? After all, the Savior suffered enough. God knows He suffered enough! When do we get to bring the hammer down on those who mock God and demean us for our faith? When is enough enough?

One might think it was enough a long time ago, but that’s not the way God works, is it? His Son-spoken truths haven’t been given to us for us to wedge them into our perverse way of thinking, jamming them into our mistaken ideas of what we think victory with God should look like.

No, God’s ways are a radical departure from our own, and let us thank Him for that!

Peter’s colleague Paul said it well when he wrote, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles. but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25).

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, give us Your Holy Spirit to lift us up under life’s strain so we might live as Your people. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.

Reflection Questions:

1. Have you ever had to square off with a bully? How did that turn out for you?

2. Are you able to keep from lashing out at others who offend you? What’s the secret to your success?

3. How can we get beyond the knee-jerk reaction we might have toward people or circumstances that irritate us? It is all willpower? Can God help us overcome these negative reactions? How?

Today’s Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 17-18    Luke 20:27-47

Daily Devotions

“A Tiny Adventure”


Devotion

Acts 2:42-47 – And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The family I married into has many Vietnamese pastors in it. In Vietnam and in America as well, the pastor’s home is—well, sort of a community help center. It’s where people go who have nowhere else to live. It’s where the hungry can find food and the sad or confused find counseling. If you’re being abused by a family member, that’s where you run to. If they can’t help you themselves, they’ll find someone who can.

When I was twenty, I was basically in terrified awe of my brother-in-law’s home in Southern California and all the people they were caring for. I could never, ever do that, I felt. It made me want to run. I think a lot of people feel that way about the earliest church in this passage we’ve just read. Look at them—selling their property, sharing the money, eating together, making major life changes—yikes!

And with the fear comes the guilt. Shouldn’t I be doing that? a little voice bugs me. But guilt misses the point.

What motivates people to do this stuff is not guilt, but love—well, and joy, and maybe some pleasure in adventure, too. Plain duty doesn’t get you very far. It was love that motivated Jesus to give Himself for us on the cross and make us His own forever. God the Father didn’t have to push Him. So if you’re looking to expand your own service horizons, maybe the place to start is with love—not duty. Start with love—with the compassion, concern, and care that God has already placed in your heart.

Then ask the Lord to send you something to do that is well within your capabilities—a good first step, a tiny adventure, especially if you are a beginner. That might mean taking dinner to a sick neighbor, or picking up the phone to call a lonely friend. It might mean offering a ride to the doctor to someone you know and care about who has advanced cancer. Start with what you’ve got. I think you’ll enjoy your tiny adventure!

THE PRAYER: Dear Father, please show me a way to pass on Your love, and make it one that fits my capabilities right now. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.

Reflection Questions:

1. What is the greatest act of love and kindness you have ever heard of? (No fair saying “Jesus.”)

2. What is the tiniest act of love and kindness you can imagine?

3. What is one thing, however, tiny, you could do today to express your love for God and His people?

Today’s Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 15-16    Luke 20:1-26

2nd Sunday of Easter 2020

The word “peace” is central for God’s people to hear time and again as part of worship. The peace of the Lord is exchanged between pastor and congregation and often also spoken among the people of the congregation. It is our blessing to hear that word of peace from our Lord once again today in our world—which also has unrest and challenges.

Today’s text is from John 20:19–31   (Jesus appears to His disciples who are behind locked doors.) .