June 13, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Young Kim of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia, was originally posted on June 20, 2013.  Pastor Young is a graduate of University of Illinois (BS), Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Westminster Theological Seminary (MA). 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Drink Too Much?”

Proverbs 20:1

“Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” 

Personally, I believe too many Christians are being led astray in this area. For some of us, we pray too little, and we drink too much.  In the name of Christian liberty, there are many believers who are so unwise in this area of drinking.  If alcohol is the way you relax after a stressful day, or it is a way for you to feel more sociable, or you love being an expert at tasting wine or beer, I think you should try this experiment:  Fast all forms of alcoholic beverages for a year.  Try it and you might discover that you have allowed alcohol to have a stronger grip in your life than you would admit.  I did say only a year . 

Prayer: Lord, let me be guided by wisdom in this area and not just my desire.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Ezekiel 28

June 12, Saturday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on June 14, 2014.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Gratitude”

Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Gratitude is one of the most powerful spiritual disciplines which every believer should practice continually.  As a young parent, one of the many lessons we try to teach our kids is thanksgiving and gratitude.  But sometimes, my kids seem to complain about the things they do not have rather than the things my wife and I have already given them.   If we are honest, we can be guilty of this as well. 

When Jesus heals the lepers, only the Samaritan (foreigner) returns back to give thanks, and Jesus asks, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” When Jesus had instructed the leprous men to go to the priest, all of them had turned to do so. On their way, all of them were healed, but only one had taken the trouble to return and thank Jesus.  In the passage, God’s graciousness is ignored and unappreciated by the nine men who were healed, but Jesus appreciates the Samaritan’s sensitivity and commends it.


Sometimes, we can take for granted what God does in our lives. We must have the same attitude that this man had when he saw that he was clean. He didn’t hesitate to give thanks to Jesus – but praised and worshiped Him. In the chaos of our lives, it can be hard to step back and thank God for what he has done for us.  Gratitude can also be powerful in overcoming a complaining heart, discontentment, bitterness, and spiritual dryness.  

Just like this one Samaritan leper who returned, take time and specifically name things in your life that you are grateful for.  These can be some examples:

  • Your salvation/faith in Jesus
  • Local church
  • School/Job that you are currently in
  • Family
  • Health
  • Even hardship and trials

Prayer: Dear God, increase my awareness of all that has been given to me unconditionally in order that I might be more grateful toward the Giver—namely, You, Lord—of such amazing gifts. Thank You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 26-27

June 11, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional was first posted on July 9, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“We Don’t Have to be Perfect for God to Use Us”

Jonah 3:4-9

Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. 6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”

What does it mean for God to use us? In today’s text, we find a powerful movement of God through a person.

Here, we find Jonah beginning to pronounce judgment on Nineveh. This was the task that he ran away from previously. As he passes through this great city, which takes three days (Jonah 3:3), Jonah is loudly declaring judgment in 40 days. This was not a pleasant message to give, and Jonah was probably not a pleasant messenger. Yet, this is who God chose and the message God gave him to speak.

Seeing this, it would be safe to assume that Jonah would have been beaten up or thrown out of the city or even killed. Yet, we find the opposite: The King hears the message and calls everyone to fast and repent. The whole city calls out to God and is transformed.

This is the supernatural work of God. Not only does He transform individual lives through the sharing of the gospel, but He can move great cities and nations. 

I am personally challenged by this because I often find myself lacking faith in what God can do. When we are told that we would be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, I am filled with more anxiety than passion.

But our encouragement for faith and boldness wells up when we look again at this text. Nineveh’s transformation didn’t happen through a conquering hero or even through a person who was excellent in following the Lord. The message wasn’t eloquent or appealing. It was Jonah who ran away giving an offensive message that God used.

What this means for us is that we don’t have to be perfect or even at a certain level of maturity or accomplishment for God to use us. When the Word of the Lord comes to us and calls us to go, we just have to obey and God will do the rest. 

This morning, let’s ask the Lord to reveal to us people He has called us to speak the gospel of Jesus to. Let’s take encouragement from this text and say to God, “Yes, I will go and speak.”

Prayer: God, open my eyes to someone You called me to speak Jesus to. Strengthen me to trust that as You send me, You will use me. I say yes to You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 25


Lunch Break Study

Re-read the passage for this morning’s devotion.

Read Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What was the result of Jonah’s message in Nineveh?
  2. What does God’s persistence in using Jonah to transform Nineveh reveal about how God operates?
  3. When we look at the Great Commission in light of today’s Jonah text, what encouragement do we find?

Notes

  1. The Ninevites repented by turning away from their evil ways and violence, and fasting from food and water that signified their desire for God’s mercy.
  2. Throughout Scripture, and especially in this text, it is evident that God loves using people to accomplish His will. He doesn’t always do this (e.g. Balaam’s donkey), but it is safe to say that the overwhelming majority of the times He does.
  3. Fulfilling the Great Commission is about obedience and availability more so than skill or personal merit.

Evening Reflection

We are all commissioned by God to speak His message wherever we go. Who is God placing on your heart to speak the gospel to? Pray that God would reveal this to you, and ask for an opportunity to share tomorrow.

June 10, Thursday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 3, 2015; it has been updated. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

Siblings Named, “Insecurity” and “Jealousy”

1 Samuel 10:17-24 (ESV)

Now Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah. 18 And he said to the people of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19 But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your thousands.” 20 Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 He brought the tribe of Benjamin nearby its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot; and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. 22 So they inquired again of the Lord, “Is there a man still to come?” and the Lord said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” 23 Then they ran and took him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24 And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

Most of the lessons that we learn from the life of Saul are of the negative type—meaning, things that we should avoid doing.  However, as we read the account of his coronation, it seems evident that Saul was thrust into the kingship almost against his will.  When given an opportunity to share about what happened between him and Samuel with his uncle, Saul leaves out the “minor” detail that he would be chosen to be the first king of Israel.  And when in accordance with the prophecy, his name is chosen by lottery, instead of welcoming the chance to be king, Saul is nowhere to be found and the people literally had to take him out of his hiding spot.    

At first glance, this reluctance to take the mantle of kingship may appear to be a sign of humility, but there is a clear distinction between modesty and a lack of courage.  Saul suffered greatly from the latter because of his inability to conquer his insecurities.  Perhaps a clue to Saul’s inner demon is found in the preceding chapter when he responds to Samuel by saying, “Am I not a Benjamite, from the least of the tribes of Israel?  And is not my clan the smallest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin?  Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”  In certain ways, Saul is paralyzed by his own negative self-perception and he is unable to respond to the call of God in a healthy manner.  Later on, in his relationship with David, Saul’s insecurities would drive him into murderous fits of jealousy when the people begin to give greater praise to David.  Yes, insecurity and jealousy are siblings. 

In the course of doing ministry, I have met many people who struggle with this very issue; and to a degree, it plagues all of us.  There are some who refuse to serve or take greater responsibility in leadership because of their insecurities.  There are some who cannot rejoice over the success of others because it is perceived as a threat to their own sense of worth.  Still others cannot take criticism and correction, even when it is constructive, because it threatens their ego.

Sadly, even as God gives us everything that is needed to succeed, if we don’t deal with our personal insecurities, we will find a way to ruin the opportunity that God lays before us.  If Saul would have simply cast his eyes away from his own deficiencies and placed his trust in the sovereign choice of God, the result of his life may have been different.  In our own struggle against our insecurities, the fact that God has chosen us to be his children has to be the source of our security.  

Prayer: Father, You have chosen us before the beginning of time to be co-heirs with Your Son.  This is an honor and a privilege that is beyond our scope of understanding.  And though we are not fit to be called to such a noble position, in Your grace and wisdom, You have found us to be worthy through Your Son.    Help us to realize that our sense of security doesn’t come because of what is or is not on our resume, but ultimately, our security comes from your great love for us.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Ezekiel 24


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 12:3-6 (ESV): For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Questions to Consider

  1. How can we learn to be objective in our self-evaluation of the gifts God has assigned to us?
  2. Why is this important to the healthy functioning of the church?
  3. Is there a ministry that God is calling you to?  How are you using your spiritual gifts?

Notes

  1. In evaluating what we can contribute to the kingdom of God, it is vitally important to be sober in our judgment of ourselves.  Literally, we have to be careful not to be intoxicated by our own egos and become “egoholics.”   However, this does not mean that we have to be somber in our self-judgment, because by God’s grace, everyone has been assigned to do something worthy for the glory of God.  
  2. This proper self-evaluation is important because it allows people to find their right place in ministry, and not be caught up in comparing themselves with other members of the church.  Many times, we forget to honor the parts of the body of Christ that are not as visible and end up only applauding what is on the surface.  For the church to be healthy, each member has to play their part.  
  3. This passage is a wonderful reminder that we are all responsible for honing and developing the spiritual gifts that God has graciously given to us.  

Evening Reflection

It has been said that God equips those whom He calls.  Think of God’s call on your life.  If you are unsure, ask the Lord to clarify it.  If it is more certain, ask God to develop both your character and your gifts to fulfill His purpose.    

June 9, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional was first posted on July 8, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“A God of Second Chance”

Jonah 3:1-3

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. 

God is a God of second chances. This is one of the truths that I hold dearly in light of the fact that I am prone to fail God and run away time after time. 

This morning, we find Jonah facing the same situation as in the beginning of this book. God reaches out to Jonah and calls him to go and pronounce judgment against the city; it is the same calling and the same message. This time, after going through the whole ordeal of the storm and fish, Jonah knows better than to run away. He arises and goes to Nineveh.

A cynical interpretation of this text makes God look cruel by forcing Jonah to do what he obviously didn’t want to do. The reality of God’s heart, though, is that He didn’t give up on Jonah. God was persistent in fulfilling the calling and purpose for which Jonah was raised. God could have used someone else, but He didn’t; He was gracious in His persistence.  As I reflect on this, I’m amazed. God could have used other people besides me. He could have used people who were more faithful, better at remembering Bible verses, whose lives were holier, but God continues to use me, even when I run away.  

This reveals one undeniable truth: without God’s immeasurable grace, we would be passed over in an instant.  We should never, therefore, take His grace for granted.  It’s humbling to realize this. God doesn’t have to use us, but even in our failings, He persists in calling out for us to be His hands and feet. 

Prayer: God, I know I fail you over and over again. Pour your grace over me. Continue to call to me, and give me the strength to say yes again and again.

Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 23


Lunch Break Study

Re-read the passage for this morning’s devotion.

Philippians 1:6: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does the writer of Jonah repeat (almost verbatim) the beginning chapter 1 in chapter 3?
  2. What does this text reveal about God’s character?
  3. What assurance does this text and Philippians 1:6 give us?

Notes

  1. By doing this, it highlights the fact that God is giving Jonah a second chance. It also shows that God’s purpose for Jonah did not change.
  2. It shows that God is not quick to give up on people. Also, it shows that the calling of God is not base on merit, but His grace.
  3. It assures us that God is persistent and persevering in calling us. God will continue to pursue us to fulfill the good work He began in us.

Evening Reflection

It’s easy for us to view ourselves in light of our failures. Yet, God is greater than our failures, and His grace empowers us to move forward. What failures have held you back from fulfilling God’s call over your life? Pray for God’s grace and a second chance over your life to say yes to Him again.

June 8, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 17, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Marrying an Unbeliever”

Malachi 2:10-2

“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendantof the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!”

“Tom” and “Mary,” who met in a Christian college and committed to serving the Lord, were finally married.   But Tom’s father, an elder, didn’t show up for the wedding because Mary was of a different race.  Perhaps, the father believed that his stance was biblically rooted.  Preceding Malachi was Ezra who confessed, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us” (Ezra 10:2).  But this was a misguided zeal that only resulted in much heartache.    

Those who were inspired to write the books of the Old Testament didn’t always know the fullest extent of what they wrote: interracial marriage was one of them.   The Israelites, who saw themselves as a “holy race” (Ezra 9:2), were certainly forbidden to marry surrounding Canaanites, such as Moabites and Ammonites, who worshiped Chemosh and Molech, respectively; these gods demanded human sacrifices (2 Chr. 28:3).  Had the Israelites, especially as a small clan, married them, their distinctive identity would’ve been lost, which would compromise God’s plan to send His Son, “who as to his human nature was a descendant of David” (Rom. 1:3).  No Israel, then no David; no David, then no Christ. 

Would the Israelites who “married the daughter of a foreign god” have acted any differently if they were told of what God really had in mind?  Not likely, because those who aren’t faithful with a few things certainly don’t become faithful when bigger things are given.  Jesus said to the rich man in hell, “If [your brothers] do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Lk. 16:31). 

Marriage is a big thing, but it is preceded by many smaller things.  How do feel about dating a non-Christian?  Obey this simple teaching: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14).  For some, this may be too late, but as Ezra said, “In spite of this, there is still hope for Israel” (Ez. 10:2b).  You still have hope, for God’s word says, “If any of [your husbands] do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (1 Pet. 3:1).   Pray for your spouse and be nice; sometimes, “nice” speaks louder than correct theology.   

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise you for your great plan for me and for the nations.  Ultimately, we are your bride whom Christ loves and gave himself up for us 2,000 years ago.  Like in any marriage, Lord, remind me to be faithful to you and honor the covenant. Let me not wander off by chasing other lovers.  I love you, God, for who would do for me what you did through your Son Christ.  Thank you.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 22


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 King 11:1-3: “‘King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.’ Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.”

Acts 5:1-5, 7-10:Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.’ 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. . . . 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, ‘Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.’ 9 Peter said to her, ‘How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.’ 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. . . .”

Questions to Consider

  1. Solomon was known as the wisest person in the world but he fell spectacularly.  What led him to his downfall and what lesson can you draw from this? 
  2. With respect to marriage, what may be the most important lesson learned from what happened to the marriage of Ananias and Sapphira?
  3. What are some general lessons about life gleaned from the lives of these three people?

Notes

  1. Wisdom doesn’t make us an automaton that is programmed to always do wise things. The wisdom received from the Lord must guide our free will so we choose that which pleases the Lord.  But once you marry someone who has no regard for that wisdom nor its giver, then that person whom you love becomes a formidable competition to wisdom itself.  Little by little, free will is going to be influenced more by the competition than the wisdom from God.  
  2. It clearly shows that marrying the wrong person can ruin your life.  Sapphira ended up paying dearly for having married a man who didn’t think anything of lying to God.  Thus, a meaningful courtship of appropriate length is necessary to discover about the person before deciding to marry him or her. 
  3. One: Avoid greed.  Solomon was greedy for more women; Ananias and Sapphira were greedy for money.  Two: Learn to be content with what you have.  Three: Keep the promise made to God; don’t act like you have obeyed Him when you haven’t.

Evening Reflection

If you are married, then before turning in, say a prayer on behalf of your spouse. If you would like to be married, then pray to the Lord about your future mate.   Wait on the Lord.   Enjoy his presence, now.

June 7, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 14, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Deadly Toleration”

Malachi 2:6-9 (ESV)

“True instructionwas in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way.  You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.” 

The day before my departure from Vietnam back to the States, the news of Asiana Airlines crash at the San Francisco airport inundated the internet.   The smooth 12-hour flight was all over in 10 seconds when the plane crashed into a seawall, resulting in three fatalities and over 160 injured. While the exact cause is still inconclusive, the safety board found that the pilot’s inexperience and unfamiliarity with the aircraft contributed to his lapse over speed-control system. 

This tragedy again demonstrates the critical nature of leadership, which also concerned Malachi, who prophesied about 100 years after the Jews had returned from Persia where there were exiled for a long time.  The returnees, after building the new temple, had hoped to restore the monarchy but that never materialized.  With a vacuum of political leadership, the role of priests became weightier.  

Besides regulating the sacrifices, they also instructed people with God’s word, except in this case, they willfully didn’t.  The priests tolerated, maybe even tacitly encouraged, the offering of inferior animals to God.  Was this their way of ingratiating themselves with the people, by helping them save “money,” so that they would be liked?  They also showed partiality in their teaching, perhaps implying that while the rich were treated with deference, the poor were held in contempt (James 2:1-6).  While the priests might have gained popularity with some people, their leadership and teaching caused many to stumble in their faith.  So, what does the pilot error and wayward priests have in common?  Leadership matters and bad leadership can inflict great damage.  

Do you hold any kind of leadership position at work or at church?  If you are a parent, you are already a leader at home.   How should you lead?  Paul said this: “If a man’s gift . . . is leadership, let him govern diligently” (Rom. 12:8).  So, work hard; don’t cut corners; say “No” to easy money; love and empower those entrusted to you instead of manipulating or lording it over them.  And “fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:2) in your leadership.  Follow the Leader even as we lead. 

Prayer: My King and Lord, I will sing of your love and justice this morning.  You are my leader, my Great Shepherd, and the head of the church.   It is a great honor to represent you so that the unbelieving world will have an opportunity to see how awesome and marvelous you really are.  Lord, use me in such a way that people around me will know and believe in your Son. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today:Ezekiel 21


Lunch Break Study

Read John 13:14-5: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

1 Peter 5:2-3: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”

1 Cor. 13:4-6:Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

James 3:1 (ESV):Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

Questions to Consider

  1. If we are in leadership of any capacity, how should we lead?
  2. Why should we approach leadership with utmost care and caution?
  3. Today is Valentine’s Day in which love is emphasized.  How is the kind of love promoted on this day different from the kind of love a leader should have for his (her) people?

Notes

  1. First, we should lead by example; we should lead willingly; we should lead eagerly.  We shouldn’t lead merely with words; we shouldn’t lead by threats and coercion; we shouldn’t lead for personal profit.
  2. Because bad leaders can cause people to go astray, God will judge them more strictly.  It’s better not to lead than to lead with bad intentions or inaccurate teachings that cause people to stumble.  Whether it is teaching Sunday school or leading a small group, we should do it diligently so that people are led toward the right direction.  If we are being slothful, then God won’t be pleased. 
  3. Whereas the love accentuated on this day is romantic, feeling love, the love that Paul wrote about is action-love.  A leader should lead with love: being patient and kind toward those who are under him and not being rude or irritable toward them.

Evening Reflection

Most people hold some type of leadership position.  A Sunday school teacher who teaches a group of toddlers certainly is a leader.  In light of that, did you encounter a situation today in which you taught someone, explained something, or demonstrated through examples?  Did anyone see Christ in you today while you were doing that?   Briefly reflect on how the day went today.  Pray.   

June 6, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Young Kim of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia, was originally posted on June 19, 2013.  Pastor Young is a graduate of University of Illinois (BS), Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Westminster Theological Seminary (MA). 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

Proverbs 19:11, 18 (NIV)

“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense . . . Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.”

Are you an impatient person?  Patience and wisdom are tied together here.  We get into a lot of unnecessary heartaches because we are not patient with our words and our decisions.  We don’t like waiting; we like our opinions heard and heard now.  Be patient with someone today.  Spend time asking for the wisdom to wait patiently. 

Are you a parent? How are you at disciplining your children?  You and I need much wisdom in this area.  Pray for your kids tonight. Write out a prayer for each child.  Ask God for insight in this area of disciplining your child.

Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 20

Prayer:  Lord, teach me to patiently overlook an offense. Lord, help me to discipline my child (children) with love and wisdom.   Amen. 

June 5, Saturday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on June 7, 2014.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Are You Worried?”

Matthew 6:25-33

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? [26] Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? [27] And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? [28] And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, [29] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. [30] But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? [31] Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ [32] For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. [33] But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Worry is not believing God will get it right” – Tim Keller

When my oldest daughter was younger, she would have this fear around Christmas time that she would not get any presents.  Her greatest worry was that she was not “good enough,” and because of her naughty behavior throughout the year, there would be no presents for her.  Seems kind of silly, but as followers of Christ, I do not think we are much different when it comes to worry and anxiety.  

Worry can be one of the greatest hindrances when it comes to our faith in Christ. The root of our anxieties is this: “How much do we trust in who God says He is?”  Life’s pressures invite us to worry incessantly about tomorrow. Yet Christ says divine providence makes this anxiety foolish. Birds do not worry; they sing, and still they find food each day without sowing or reaping. We, as God’s children, have more worth than they, and can be all the more confident that He will provide for us as well. “The lilies of the field” neither toil nor spin. Their life and worth is so limited that they are fuel for our fires, yet their glory is far greater than Solomon’s glory. Since the Father provides for these, He also will provide for us, His children. Far from compounding our anxiety, making God’s kingdom the center of our lives frees us from anxiety. If we seek this kingdom first, He will meet all our needs (v. 33). We need not worry about tomorrow, for God always takes care of His own.

What area of your life is God asking you not to worry about?  Make a commitment to set your heart on His kingdom and righteousness, and trust that He would provide for your needs in His time.  Amen.  

Prayer: Dear God, remind me to fix my eyes on You and trust You wholeheartedly.  Fill me with Your Spirit in order that I may live by God’s power.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 18-19

June 4, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 13, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Such Magnanimous and Unmerited Grace”  

Malachi 2:4-6 (ESV) 

“So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. 5 My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.”

Bill McCartney was the coach of the University of Colorado football team that won the national championship in 1990.  That same year, he founded the Promise Keepers, a national men’s ministry focusing on building strong marriages and families through biblical values.  But, ironically, his family was in shambles much of the time while he was coaching:  his only daughter gave birth to two out-of-wedlock babies and his wife drifted into depression as her husband was constantly on the road.  

Levi, the third son of Jacob, was like McCartney in the sense that nothing he did in life suggested that  God was going to make a covenant with him full of great promises.  While the covenant with Levi was one of life and peace, he, along with his brother Simeon, were men of neither peace nor life.  Once, they killed all the men in Shechem in revenge because one of them had violated their sister (Gn. 34:25).  Still haunted by this event that had occurred several decades ago, their father, in his deathbed, said, “Simeon and Levi . . .  their swords are weapons of violence. . . . Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! . . . I will . . . disperse them in Israel” (Gn. 49:7).  

So, why does God choose people like McCartney and Levi to proclaim a message that they themselves didn’t live out?   In short, such magnanimous and unmerited grace  bestowed on the undeserved and unworthy gives us hope—that we are never counted out by God.  His specialty is choosing unlikely people, and then changing them so that they are fit for his work.   In speaking of Old Testament judges like Gideon, Barak, and Samson whom God used, the Hebrews writer wrote, “Whose weakness was turned to strength and . . .  became powerful in battle” (Heb. 11:34).   Realizing the irony of how God was using him, McCartney admitted, “It’s absurd that I’m the one.  I’ve made so many mistakes.”  But God changed him and he can change you as well.  

Are you feeling the blues these days because of what’s going on at work or family?  Turn to God, now.  Have hope!  This, too, will pass but stay close to the Lord; walk with him in peace and uprightness.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, I recognize you as my Lord and King.  You are such an awesome and mighty God who can take those who are weak and turn them into mighty women and men of God.  In our desperate attempts to change ourselves, we look for all the experts before we look to you.  How foolish and dishonoring!  Lord, I turn to you this morning to change me; my heart and my character.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 17


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Cor. 1:27-9 (ESV): “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

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.”

Jer. 9:23-4: Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.  For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What gives hope to people who desperately need it?  Explain it in terms of 1 Cor. 1:27-9.
  2. While there is more than one way to change us, the trials in life are probably the most effective way.  How do trials help us to change and grow as a person and a believer? 
  3. We read that God chooses the foolish and the weak to shame the wise and strong, respectively.  Now, let’s assume that you are the wise and strong in the sense that you have more knowledge and your position is higher than others.   Does that mean God cannot use you?  If he does, what kind of a heart do you need to embody?

Notes

  1. Not only do people need to know that God can change lives, they also need to see real examples of unlikely people whom God used after changing them (or keep on changing them).  1 Cor. 1:27-9 spells out clearly God’s preference so that no man can boast of what he has done.  This isn’t about God’s ego trip but to make sure that people place their hope in the One who can actually help them.
  2. Trials make us feel helpless, weak, and not in control.  They can either break us or make us if we turn to God.  If we tend to be prideful about ourselves, then trials can humble us; if we tend to rely on ourselves, then trials can help us to depend God; if we are control-freaks, then trials can remind us that not many things are under our control.
  3. When Paul says “weak” or “foolish,” it can refer to literally weak or foolish people (e.g., not so educated), or someone who, despite being wise and strong, has a tender heart toward God. Such a person will not boast in his wisdom, might or riches; he will, instead, want the world to know how great and awesome God is.   

Evening Reflection

What is an area in your life that needs a change?  Did something happen today that reminded you of this? Turn to God this evening and ask him to really change you.