December 5, Monday

shan2Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from December 5-11 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who serves as the Fenway site pastor of Symphony Church in Boston.  Shan, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Jenny, who recently gave birth to their first baby Tyler.

Devotional Thought for Today

Philippians 1:3-6

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 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. 

5bSome of you may recall a wonderfully cheesy Christian song from the 1980s from Michael W. Smith called “Friends.” The first lines of the chorus are, “And friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them.”  While this song is cheesy, Smith, at least, hints at something that’s incredibly important for us to remember with regards to our spiritual friendships: For our friendships or partnerships in the gospel to last, the Lord must be the Lord of them.

The book of Philippians is oozing with joy and affection from Paul towards the church in Philippi.  His heart of love towards these friends of his is undeniable when we read his letter, especially in these verses as he is so thankful for them when he remembers and prays for them with joy.  Paul has such affection for them because of their friendship, but it’s so much more than a relationship based on similar backgrounds or interests.  There was a strong friendship between them because the Lord was the Lord of them.  Paul’s love for them was grounded in the fact that God was working in them.

It is crucial for us in the body of Christ to seek out and maintain spiritual friendships that will last for an eternity.  Especially as we live in in a culture where the idea of friendship has been cheapened by the social media, it’s easy for us to settle for relationships based on similar age, interests, or opinions.  Too often we’re missing out on the richness of joy that God has for us in true spiritual and eternal partnerships that are established and rooted in the work of God in our lives.  As we are all a part of the body of Christ, let us seek to grow or maintain friendships where we can rejoice, as we see God at work in one another.

Prayer: Jesus, I thank You for all of the ways You’ve blessed me through the spiritual friendships in my life.  I pray against shallowness and superficiality in my relationships, but that in all of them I will see Your faithful hand at work.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 26

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Lunch Break Study

Read Mark 2:1-12: And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Questions to Consider

  1. What were the obstacles to this paralytic man being healed?
  2. According to Mark, why does Jesus heal this man?
  3. How would you describe the friends of this paralytic man?

Notes

  1. There was such a large crowd in this house that people could not get through the door. There were also the scribes who did not approve of Jesus saying that this man’s sins were forgiven.
  2. Mark tells us in verse 5 that Jesus forgives this man’s sins and heals him “when Jesus saw their” It’s important to note that Mark says “their” faith, not “his faith.”  It was on the basis of the collective faith of the paralytic man’s four friends that Jesus heals and forgives.
  3. Among a number of good words to describe them, I would choose loving, persistent and faithful. You have to assume that these four friends really cared for their paralytic friend.  They wouldn’t have gone through the embarrassment of damaging the roof of another man’s house for the sake of a stranger, but they persisted through the obstacles with great faith to bring their friend to Jesus.  What amazing friends!

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Evening Reflection

Think about the relationships and friendships you have now. Take some time to thank and praise God for the friendships that have pointed or been pointing you towards Jesus.  Also, think about some of these relationships that could go deeper.  Pray that those relationships in particular can go deeper and that God will continue to bless you through the body of Christ.

December 4, Sunday

joannaNote:  The AMI QT Devotionals for December 3-4 are provided by Joanna Tzen.  Joanna graduated from U. Penn and currently works in Philadelphia.  She married Paul in 2014 and they attend Grace Covenant Church.

Devotional Thought for Today

Phil 3:20  

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

4Something else that has been making me long for my heavenly home is all of the recent election rhetoric. Political and government news is somewhat interesting for me, but I usually keep my opinions to myself. This is probably due to my confrontational-avoidant nature, but that’s for another day’s devotional.

I work on a very liberal campus and I was struck by the somber nature of the day after the election. I understand the disappointment and fear many felt that day, and continue to, but at the same time, it has never been more apparent to me that who and what the world hopes in truly is not eternal. I am an advocate of us as Christians being good stewards while we are here, meaning we vote and stay informed of and engaged in the world around us, but it became very clear to me that those at my workplace placed all of their hope in a person or political party or a government.

That day, I thought about how I am ultimately a citizen of heaven, and no earthly authority can change that truth. My trust and hope is in the One who laid the foundations of earth and overcame death. He is unshakeable and immovable. Not only do we hope in Jesus while we are here, but we have hope that there is a renewal coming for all things, when there is a new heaven and new earth.

My prayer is that even in divisive times, Christians of all persuasions can identify that we hope in the same God; and even in this time, this will allow us to point others to the One who will never fail us.

Prayer: Lord, search my heart and show me if I have placed my hope in the things that will pass, either in my own dreams or things of this world. If so, please forgive me, Lord, and help me to place my hope in You once again. Remind of how faithful You have been in the past and how You keep your promises in the present and future. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 25

December 3, Saturday

joannaNote:  The AMI QT Devotionals for December 3-4 are provided by Joanna Tzen.  Joanna graduated from U. Penn and currently works in Philadelphia.  She married Paul in 2014 and they attend Grace Covenant Church.

Devotional Thought for Today

Hebrews 11:13: All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

3Earlier this fall, my husband and I purchased our first house. People always ask how we feel about this, expecting joy and excitement, but I think our response leaves something to be desired. As thankful as we are for this gift and experience to be good stewards, maintaining a 100-year-old house is a lot of work! It’s not just keeping up with mortgage payments, but learning how old door knobs and locks work, along with a heating system, not to mention old windows and electrical systems. All that is to say, oddly enough, the experience makes me long for my heavenly home.

Hebrews 11 is known as the “hall of faith” passage, and faith is defined as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (v.1). This is the faith for which our forefathers were lauded. They have this confidence and assurance because of who God is. God is a good and perfect Heavenly Father who is a promise keeper. Abraham knew this when he was ready to sacrifice Isaac (v.17); Moses knew this when he was ready to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (v.27).

Today, we follow the same God who was faithful to Abraham and Isaac, who furthermore, kept His promise to us of a heavenly home by sending His Son Jesus. Have you been longing for your heavenly home? If not, have circumstances overwhelmed you or made you complacent? Let’s ask the Heavenly Father to help us recover a healthy and heavenly longing today.

Prayer: Lord, thank You that you are trustworthy and a promise keeper. Thank You for showing me Your love through the sacrifice of Your Son. Remind me of how He has prepared the way for me, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies me until we meet face to face. Help me to remember Your promise and renew my mind toward heavenly things (Rom. 12:2), while You enable me to do good works (Eph.2:10) until it is time to return home. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 23-4

 

December 2, Friday

emersonNote: Today’s AMI Devotional is provided by Emerson Lin.  Emerson, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, serves as a staff at Kairos Christian Church, while studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He and Annie got married earlier this year.

Devotional Thought for Today

Hebrews 13:3

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

2Growing up, I was a typical rebellious teenager in high school and would often fight with my parents. Thinking they were being too hard on me, I decided that I had enough of their “parenting.” One day, I told my parents I could not live with them anymore and made a decision to leave the house. I packed my bags and walked out the door and disappeared for a whole week, without any contact. After a week, my friend’s mom drove me home. Looking back, the whole ordeal was quite comical.

In college, when I asked my parents what their thoughts were during that situation, they said that while they were worried, they understood that I needed some space. However, for a whole week, they knelt by my bed and interceded for me – asking the Lord to bring me home safely.

In this passage, the author of Hebrews concludes this letter with fourteen exhortations. In one of the exhortations, the author encourages the readers to remember those in prison as if they were together with them in prison. The people who were put in prison and mistreated were, most likely, those who were persecuted for their faith. I believe that the author was encouraging the readers to not only remember them, but more importantly, to intercede on behalf of them.

Many of us – including myself—struggle with the exhortation to intercede for other believers. We struggle because of the individualistic society we live in today. Even the rhetoric we use indicates how we view our faith, “Our personal Lord and Savior.” Sometimes we are so focused on our own faith that we forget that we belong to the body of Christ. Because we constantly forget, the author of Hebrews encourages us with the word “continue” to remind us that it is an ongoing process, and that we should not cease remembering the community of believers

While it is not wrong to have personal requests, the Bible does remind us, quite often, to pray for all believers. Ephesians 6:18 says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Also, 1 Timothy 2:1 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people.” This is God’s command to us!

I want to encourage you to examine your heart. Do you intercede on behalf of your brothers and sisters? Do you pray more for yourself or for others? If you pray for yourself more, why?

Prayer: Lord, please continue to remind me to intercede for saints around me, as well as, those who are suffering in other nations. I do not want my faith to be so inward focused, but to be outward focused for the sake of the body of Christ. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 21

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Lunch Break Study

Read John 17:20-6: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is Jesus’ prayer for all believers?
  2. Why is complete unity important for believers? How does this encourage you to strive for unity?
  3. Verse 26 says, “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them.” In what areas of your life do you see the fruit of the Father’s love?

Notes

  1. Jesus’ prayer is that there may be unity among all believers, just as the Father and the Son are one.
  2. The purpose of our unity is so that the world will know that the Father has sent Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and our unity points to that. The body of Christ is like a lighthouse that displays the love of Christ for the lost. If the world sees the Father’s love through the body of Christ, then it places a greater responsibility for us to love our brothers and sisters as best as we can.
  3. Spend some time in personal reflection.

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Evening Reflection

In view of today’s theme of intercession this morning, how did this impact you? Were you reminded of someone that you could pray for? Review your day here.

December 1, Thursday

david-sonNote: Today’s AMI Devotional is written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston.  David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace, who is a teacher.

Devotional Thought for Today

Hebrews 12:3-7

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

1Last month, I visited an Islamic Jummah prayer meeting in one of the college campuses near our church. Of course I told them that I was a Christian, and my purpose for attending was merely to learn. As I was sitting in the back of the room, observing the prayer time, the imam (spiritual leader) began his sermon with these words: “Life and death. Why did Allah create these things? – To test us. Everything in this life is a test, to see which one of you is the best, and to see if you will fall away or obey….”

The rest of the sermon was strikingly similar to several Christian sermons I’ve heard, in terms of it being an exhortation to strive for perseverance and moral uprightness. However, I couldn’t shake the weight of his opening words, “Everything in this life is a test….” In other words, until their dying breath, people must strive to pass each test from Allah, lest they fall out of his favor.

This couldn’t be further from the truth of our God. The author of Hebrews tells us that those who are in Christ are already accepted as sons (and daughters) of God. The various trials, hardships, and even struggles against sin, are not entrance exams into His Kingdom. Even when God does test us (He does sometimes), they are not tests that determine His acceptance of us. Jesus already determined His acceptance of us! Instead, God uses all these things to discipline us, to teach us, to grow us, and to sanctify us. This changes everything! While Muslims must strive in order to pass the test, Christians strive from a place of already having been accepted.

Perhaps you are going through a trial, a hardship, or a struggle against sin. Take encouragement in the truth that God is growing you, even through the things that are unpleasant. If you are in Christ, you are a child of God, and nothing can take that away!

Prayer: Lord, we thank You that our adoption into Your family was not by our own merit or performance. Thank you, Jesus, for taking our sins and giving us Your righteousness. Holy Spirit, help us now to endure through the various struggles in this life, and that we might grow in discipline and faith.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 20

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Lunch Break Study

Deuteronomy 8:2-3: And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What kind of test did God put the Israelites through?
  2. Why did God test His people in this way?
  3. What can we learn about God’s method of teaching in this passage?

Notes:

  1. God tested his people by leading them in the wilderness for 40 years. He humbled them by letting them go hungry, and then feeding them with manna. This was intentional, that is, to show the Israelites that they have to depend on God to provide each meal, every day. The Israelites had no control over the manna. When it would fall, how long it would last all depended on God. But it was their only source of nutrients, and they had to trust God for it. It’s important to note that during the entire wilderness narrative, no one ever died of hunger.
  2. God tells us that He tested His people in this way so “that he might make [them] know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” All the suffering, hunger, and trusting, was to teach the Israelites to live by God’s Word on a daily basis. Although the wilderness wasn’t a pleasant experience, God was disciplining his children, showing them that they could put their whole-hearted trust in Him, because He loves them.
  3. Among other things, this passage tells us that God will allow seasons of hardships and trials in our lives, if it will lead us to trust and love Him more.

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Evening Reflection

It’s easy to thank God when things are going well. But Paul writes in Romans 5:3-4, “…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope….”

This evening, spend some time thanking God for the things you feel the LEAST thankful for. It might just be God’s most effective tool for producing endurance, character, and hope in you.

November 30, Wednesday

Note: The AMI QT Devotionals for November 29-30 are provided by Jabez Yeo.  Jabez, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is currently working in NYC and serving at TRPC-E.  He hopes to become a missionary.

Devotional Thought for Today

1 Timothy 4:12: Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

30As mentioned yesterday, Cyril, in spite of his character flaws, ably explained how Christ took on human nature while remaining fully divine; that, however, did not end the debate because of the monophysites, who argued that the divinity and humanity of Christ were so fused in him that it resulted in a third nature.

In response, the theologian Leonitus explained the principle of “enhypostatsia” (i.e. “in person”) by noting three ways that two beings are united[1]:

  • Side by side as in friendship, which was the Nestorian belief: Jesus’ humanity and divinity in two natures and two persons working together.
  • Blending into a hybrid, which was the monophysite belief: Jesus is a mixture of human and divine but neither one fully.
  • Two natures so united that their distinct natures exist in a single hypostasis (i.e. an underlying reality), which was what Leonitus taught. He used the example of a torch, which is both wood and flame, completely united by fire. While wood and flame can have its own existence, they do not in the torch; they interpenetrate because they are held together by the underlying reality of fire.

Leonitus then noted that Christ’s unfallen human nature had everything except independence from the Logos (i.e., Christ’s divinity). From the moment Jesus’ humanity existed, it had its personhood in the Logos. Thus, the personhood of Jesus (hence “enhypostatsia”) is the underlying reality that held together Jesus’ dual natures of humanity and divinity.  (Did you get all this?)

Despite Leonitus’ theological contribution, not much is known about him, except that he began serving at a monastery when he was twenty years old.[2] He remained faithful and continued to participate in various theological discussions [3] before his seminal contribution of “enhypostatsia.”

At times, we discount ourselves because of our youth and believe that Christian living is possible only after attaining a certain level of maturity. We may feel like our efforts won’t contribute much, if at all. However, as shown in Leonitus’ life, we have no idea how God may use our present efforts to prepare us for His future work. Let’s not use our youth as an excuse and begin living for Him today!

Prayer:  Lord, there are times when I feel so helpless because of a lack of experience. I often feel like there are things only “spiritual giants” can accomplish, and that I have nothing to contribute. Lord, help me to fully depend on You, and I ask that You work in and through me. Help me not let anyone, including myself, look down on me because of my youth. Rather, help me to be unafraid of living for You in all aspects of my life. In Your Name I pray, amen.

[1] Olson, Roger. The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform.

[2] http://www.greekorthodox.org.au/general/resources/publications/articledetails.php?page=187&article_id=44

[3] http://www.britannica.com/biography/Leontius-of-Byzantium

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 19

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Lunch Break Study

Read Hebrews 6:10: God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

1 Cor. 16:17: I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.

Questions to Consider

  1. When we feel discouraged because no one seems to notice the hard work we put in to help build a ministry, what should we remember?
  2. When we see people work hard among us, what should we do?
  3. What is one lesson we can learn from the important work of Leonitus that hardly gets recognized?

Notes

  1. We must remember that God will not forget our work done to help His people—God is just and does not forget to reward those who merits it.  (Since He gives us more than what we truly deserve, this, too, is His grace.)
  2. I agree with the apostle Paul who teaches that such men deserve recognition. Recognizing those who work hard should be done at appropriate moments; on the other hand, those who do the work shouldn’t do so to be recognized by men.
  3. We are assured that God gave Leontius his due reward in heaven for making an important contribution to the understanding of the dual nature in the single person of Jesus Christ.  At the end of our life, that’s all that truly matters.

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Evening Reflection

As you look back to this day, were you annoyed that your good work went unnoticed by those who should have done so?  Even worse, did you feel like the wrong person got the credit you deserved?  How should you respond when you feel like injustice was done against you?

Perhaps a verse like Matthew 6:3-4 gives you the perspective you need: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

November 29, Tuesday

jabez2Note: The AMI QT Devotionals for November 29-30 are provided by Jabez Yeo.  Jabez, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is currently working in NYC and serving at TRPC-E.  He hopes to become a missionary.

Devotional Thought for Today

Colossians 3:12-4

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

29There is nothing more taxing than having to make a choice between the “lesser of two evils”—this is as perplexing today as it was back in the days of the early church when the choice was between Nestorius and Cyril (italics—P. Ryun).

For the early church, much debate continued regarding the nature and person of Jesus Christ. During the mid-fifth century A.D., the bishop Nestorius argued that prosopon (person) and physis (nature) go hand in hand for both humanity and divinity. Thus, Nestorius believed that if Jesus had a human nature and a divine nature, “His incarnation had to be a mutual dwelling of two people – the eternal Son of God and the mortal Jesus.”[1]  To that mutual dwelling, Nestorius assigned the name Christ and considered it to be a combination of two separate persons.

Unfortunately, Nestorius was sincerely wrong, and the bishop Cyril was quite eager to point that out.  Under the rubric of what was called “hypostatic union,” Cyril taught that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who took on Himself a human nature and existence, while remaining fully divine. According to Cyril, “If Jesus was truly the Word incarnate, then it must be theologically correct to attribute to him all the glory of deity, as well as to the Son of God who became human all the weakness and mortality of humanity.”[2] Cyril’s favorite formula for expressing the incarnation was that “God the Logos did not come into a man, but he truly became man, while remaining God.”

Unfortunately, Cyril was also known for behaving like a “proud pharaoh.” He was involved in many disputes throughout his life, and some historians believe that Cyril was responsible for stoking tensions that led a “Christian” mob to murder the Hellenistic philosopher Hypatia.[3] When Cyril was exiled by Emperor Theodosius II, he even engaged in bribery with the emperor’s confidantes and sent mobs to besiege Theodosius’ palace to shout abuse. Needless to say, Cyril did not have a reputation for being patient or loving.

As we are all sinners, conflict is not only possible but inevitable. Nevertheless, how we deal with conflict indicates whether we are indeed putting on our godly nature or resorting to our sinful nature.  Perhaps, it is fair to say that God used Cyril despite of his shortcomings, not because of his greatness.  Let’s ask for God’s strength to put on Christ’s nature today.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I know that there is nothing good in me. I know that without You, my selfishness and pride seep into every conflict that I face. Help me to put on Your nature and to have compassion, patience, humility and kindness. Help me to love others as You have loved me. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

[1] Roger Olson. The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform.

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyril_of_Alexandria

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 18

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Lunch Break Study

Read Colossians 2:9a: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”

Colossians 1:19: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.”

John 4:6: “Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey.”

Mark 11:12:The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Given these limited verses, justify Jesus’ complete divinity as well as His complete humanity.
  2. Which of the following two statements is correct? Jesus is 50 percent human and divine, respectively, in one person, or, Jesus is 100 percent human and divine in one person?
  3. In light of this, can we have confidence in what Hebrews 4:15 declare: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Notes

  1. The Colossian passages clearly state that the fullness of Deity dwells in Jesus Christ. Fullness is not a half-measure but complete and exact as its counterpart.  As for Christ’s humanity, he became tired after a long day’s walk and became hungry when not eating, just like us.
  2. Jesus is 100 percent human and divine, respectively, in one person.
  3. We can absolutely have confidence in what is promised in Hebrews 4:15 because Jesus experientially knows what we are going through (without sinning). In truth, Jesus didn’t need to go through all this to empathize with us; but He did so that it will help us to have more confidence in Christ.

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Evening Reflection

This evening, as you are about to turn in for the night, would you say a short prayer of gratitude to the Lord for having come in the flesh to do for us something no one except He could have done, that is, taking care of our sin problem, once and for all, and continuing to intercede on our behalf?

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 Jn. 2:1).

November 28, Monday

janeNote: Today’s AMI Devotional is written by Jane Oak who serves at Tapestry LA. Jane, an immigration lawyer, and her husband Harry were married last year.

Devotional Thought for Today

Philemon 1:6

“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good things we have in Christ” (NIV 1984).

28One Sunday before worship service, I went to Starbucks with a few friends from Tapestry LA.  While ordering my coffee, I saw the cashier wince and say quietly to himself “Oooh, my back hurts.”  I paid him and then went over to the other counter to pick up my coffee.  While waiting, I sensed the Spirit telling me, “Jane, you need to pray for his back to be healed.”  I responded with, “I know you have healed my friends and cell group members, but this is a total stranger and he is busy working”; nevertheless, I felt that I had no choice but to obey.

So, after getting my coffee and waiting for the line of people to clear out, I walked up to the cashier, at which point he turned around to wipe the back counter. Having seen his name tag earlier, I said in a gentle voice, “Javier?”  He turned around and said, “Yes?”  I asked him, “Can I pray for your back to be healed?” Since he was surprised that I knew about his back pain, I explained how I had seen him wince earlier and muttering something about his aching back. I then told him, “My friends and I have prayed for people to get healed, and they get healed.  So, if you would like, we could pray for your back right now.  It will only take about 10 seconds.”  He paused, looked into my eyes for a couple seconds, and then said, “Yes, I would like that.”  I excitedly ushered him to the side where we could lay hands on him.  I called out to the others to come pray for Javier’s back.  They came over and when Sol asked Javier, “Is it muscular or spinal?”  Javier answered spinal.  Then, we laid hands on him and I spoke the words, “Lord, heal this back in Jesus’ name.”  There was no time to pray longer than those 7 words because we had to make sure he could get back to work.  I then stood in front of Javier and asked, “Javier, how does your back feel?”  He started moving around and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness, it doesn’t hurt at all!”  Sol got excited and asked him to bend down and touch his toes just to make sure.  He bent down a couple times and said there was no pain at all.  We all started rejoicing, but had to quickly let him get back to the cash register.

The worship service that followed was amazing for us because we knew we were worshipping a living God who loves to heal. He is just waiting for us to do our part of laying on hands and praying in Jesus’ name.  Our part is actually quite easy; God, of course, does the hard part of bringing about the healing.  What I have learned through this and other healings is that God has chosen to partner with us in bringing healing to others (physical, emotional, and spiritual) because He wants to strengthen our faith and deepen our intimacy with Him through these wonderful, supernatural experiences with Him. Thank you, Lord.

Prayer: “Lord, I pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened so that we may perceive the needs of the people around us in order that we may minister to them in a tangible and fruitful manner. May our lives be full of adventure and excitement as we join You in your work. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 17

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Lunch Break Study

(Provided by P. Ryun Chang)

Read Eph. 6:19-20: Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Colossians 4:3-6: At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.  

Questions to Consider 

  1. We know the apostle Paul to be a very competent and fearless preacher of the gospel. In light of that, does this passage surprise you in any way?
  2. Paul asked for an open door—what would that mean to us? What did it mean for Jane?
  3. In light of the morning devotional, in what sense did Jane make the best of her time?

Notes

  1. Paul’s request is surprising because he asked the Ephesians to pray for boldness and apt words to share. Since these were two of Paul’s strong points, how much more we need to ask as many people to pray for us to be bold and knowledgeable when sharing God’s word!
  2. We ought to pray that God will lead us to people whose disposition is more receptive to God’s word than others (perhaps because they are going through a difficult moment). For Jane, catching the cashier’s groaning became an open door (added with boldness).
  3. Jane could have left it at that: pay the bill, drink the coffee and off to Tapestry. But she complied with the Spirit’s tugging by deciding to turn a mundane visit to a coffee shop into an experience with God for both the cashier and Jane.   How about you?

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Evening Reflection

Close your eyes for a moment and relive this day while asking this question: Was there at least one person in your office, school, or the grocery store you visited whom you could have ministered? What kept you from recognizing it at that moment? What could you have done differently? Pray that you will respond differently the next time.

November 27, Sunday

Note: The AMI QT Devotionals for November 21-27 are provided by Pastor Yohan Lee of Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco, CA.

Devotional Thought for Today

Hebrews 11:37-38

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

27If you are like most Americans, you probably watched your share of movies this holiday weekend. You younger and hipper folks out there probably went to the theaters; cheap and lame folk like myself just turned on the television and found a Star Wars marathon on TBS, a bunch of superhero movies on TNT, more action movies on FX, and of course rom-coms on Oxygen.  Because I am male, I am slightly ashamed to admit that I’ve watched my share of rom-coms.  One somewhat common theme we see in this genre is the bad guy turned good by the right girl.  In theory, it’s a cute plot, but now that I have daughters, I hate it.  I hate it because Hollywood is trying to sell us a love story that the guy in these movies has no business buying.  Example, when Jack Nicholson tells Helen Hunt in the 1997 film As Good as It Gets that “She makes me want to be a better man,” the audience is touched and everyone hopes these two get together.  We neglect the fact that Nicholson played an OCD, narcissistic, jerk who was not good enough for Hunt’s character.  I would never want my daughter dating a guy like that!  Don’t try to convince my daughters that this is a great love story!  By the way, I’ve heard many a college student and young man use that cheesy line to make would-be girlfriends swoon.  Ladies be warned—it comes from a movie!

All kidding aside, I think we all romantics at heart in our movies.  We don’t care if the lead man is noble in character or actually worthy of the love of the girl he pursuits, as long as the film makes us feel good.  When I read today’s passage, the author of Hebrews reminds us of many great men and women of God who loved God and his people so fiercely, yet were not loved in return.  In fact, just the opposite, they were stoned, sawed in two, and killed.  His description of these people hits the description of these people on the head, the world was not worthy of them (vs. 38).

Truthfully, not much has changed since the first-century.  Some of the greatest men and women of God have loved the people of this world, and have gotten very little or nothing at all in return (think Mother Theresa types who served lepers in Calcutta).  And if you find yourself feeling like this, meaning you have been serving a people who don’t seem to appreciate your efforts or are not changing, then I want to encourage you to press on.  Christian life can be tough at times; we are called to love and pray for those who persecute us.  We do this because we have faith that this is what our Lord would have us do.  We imitate his example, knowing that our efforts will be rewarded.  If you think about it, the Gospel is the ultimate rom-com in which an utterly worthless people are loved and pursued by a worthy and good God.  Will you do the same?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your example.  You loved and sacrificed for a people who were not worthy of your love and sacrifice.  Help me to follow your example, to love and serve a people who may not respond in kind, because I have faith in you.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 16

November 26, Saturday

Note: The AMI QT Devotionals for November 21-26 are provided by Pastor Yohan Lee of Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco, CA.

Devotional Thought for Today

Hebrews 11:13-16

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

26On Thursday, I shared how we implemented chores and rewards for my seven-year-old, Simon. From that system, Saturday became his payday. In his first week of work, he made a whopping $3. Small oversight on my part, I only had $2 in my wallet. So, I gave my son the two bucks and told him that I’ll give him the rest later. I figured no big deal, right? Not so fast… for some reason, my son did not believe that I would’ve made good on my IOU. (I don’t know why Simon doesn’t trust me; perhaps it’s because whenever my family gives him money, Dad puts it away for “safekeeping”.) Anyway, the next day Simon asked me for his dollar, but of course I didn’t have it, because I wasn’t about to go to the bank for one dollar. This went on for a few days until I found a convenient time to come up with a buck—I think it was the following Wednesday.

Here’s the funny thing: Instead of demolishing his faith in me, the fact that I eventually paid built up his trust in me. Because my son knows that I will eventually pay up, he is fine with letting things slide here and there. Now when I tell him I’ll pay him later, he’s good, knowing that later will eventually come.

Similarly, when the writer of Hebrews says, “These all [faithful patriarchs] died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar…”, he means that they did not have to see every promise of God fulfilled with their own eyes to believe in God’s future faithfulness because they had seen God “pay up” on past promises numerous times. The principle we need to learn is that this: Past faithfulness fuels future faith. One of the examples the writer of Hebrews used was that of Abraham and Sarah. Technically, neither of them lived long enough to see their descendants grow to be as “many as the stars,” but they did see the miraculous birth of Isaac, new lands (in part), and other miraculous events. For them, since God had proven to be faithful, they could count on His future faithfulness even after their deaths.

What are the things you are waiting for? Do you have faith in God’s future promises because you have seen his faithfulness in the past? If you are having problems remembering God’s faithfulness, then I encourage you to keep a journal. You will see that God is faithful; seeing this will encourage your faith in Him tomorrow.

Prayer: Faithful Father, thank You that You keep your promises. Remind me of your past goodness toward me; let that fuel my faith in You for the future. You are the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 14-15