December 1, Wednesday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on December 16, 2015, is written by Andy Kim who is an associate pastor at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco.  Andy is a graduate of Northwestern University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“I Met the One!”

Hosea 2:19-20

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.

I’m sure at one point, all of us have thought about “the one.” It’s this person who embodies all of our dreamy attributes or perfect personality traits to fit our every need and desire. But as you get older, this list gets shorter and shorter because we begin to see that there is no such person. 

I’m sure Hosea was not thinking that Gomer was “the one.” During those days, it was wrong for a man, let alone a prophet, to marry a woman who was with another man. Gomer, in this case, was not with just one man but with many men and would continue to be unfaithful.

Like Gomer, the Israelites had been unfaithful to God, turning to worthless idols, and rejecting His glory. Yet, God does the unimaginable. Even in their unfaithfulness, God calls them back and declares that they shall be married to Him. But for a marriage to be consummated, the man would have to pay a bridal price. This price would be based on His righteousness, His justice, His love, and His compassion; and it would be fully displayed through his Son Jesus Christ. How great is our Lord who promises to be faithful to us and invites us into a relationship with him so that we will know Him! This relationship wouldn’t be based on our attributes or even our traits, but on Jesus Christ alone—this is grace. 

As you continue to dive deeper into the narrative of Hosea, my prayer is that God will reveal the magnitude of His love and grace for you.  And during this season of warm greetings and gift exchange, remember those in our midst who will receive none; perhaps you can show them what God’s love and grace truly looks “with actions and in truth” (1 Jn. 3:18).  

Prayer: Father, thank You for loving me, even amid my failures and unfaithfulness to You. Jesus, thank You for the price that You paid for me. Holy Spirit, may I continue to live in the grace that You have shown me. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 19


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 5:6-8: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

Questions to Consider

  1. What does Paul emphasize about human nature?
  2. How does God demonstrate His love for us?
  3. What does this passage tell us about the nature of God’s love?

Notes

  1. Like much of Romans, Paul is emphasizing human depravity. In the Greek tense, the words “were still” denotes an ongoing action that shows that even in our continuous depraved nature, God chose to save us.
  2. By sending His Son Jesus to die for us. Not only to die for us but to justify us from all unrighteousness so that we may enter into a relationship with Him.
  3. God’s love is unconditional, timely, and undeserving. There is nothing that we can do or be to earn His love.  The relationship that He calls us into is solely based on His merit. Using the argument of dying for a righteous person, Paul shows how undeserving we are of His love.

Evening Reflection

Maybe you haven’t done all the right things today or prayed enough. Do you feel separated from God? Remember, it’s not about what we are or how well we did something—we are saved through Christ and Christ alone.

November 30, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was first posted on July 14, 2015.  Charles is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Spiritual Dryness”

1 Kings 17:6

And the ravens brought [Elijah] bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 

Droughts and famines happen in every area of life. In baseball, when a player finds himself in a drought, it’s called a “slump.” And everyone has them—even the best of them. One time Mickey Mantle, the all-time great, went through a terrible slump that just would not end. One particular game, he struck out in all three at bats. Disgraced, he sat on the bunch muttering to himself, when a young boy named Tommy Bera, the son of the great manager Yogi Bera, walked over to him. Upon reaching him, he tapped Mantle’s knee tenderly to say the words, “You stink!” 

Droughts happen in every area of life, but spiritual droughts are the worst. When the brook runs dry in your soul, the easiest thing to do is to give up in despair. But despairing and quitting are not what God’s people do. 

Elijah the great prophet is suffering right along with the entire nation of Israel through a famine, as part of the judgment for Israel’s idolatry. Elijah was called to be obedient in the midst of it, and we too are called to obey whether in plenty or famine. But we must understand this: God never calls us to endure a situation that He Himself is not prepared to sustain us through. 

God provided for Elijah during the famine. God says, “I have ordered the ravens to feed you.” The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and evening. The ravens!—the dark, dirty, scavenging birds, close relatives to vultures, creatures the Law declared “unclean” (Leviticus 11:13-19). God used these greedy robbers known to snatch up dirty pieces from carcasses to provide sustenance for Elijah. God can and often will use the most unlikely source to supply his people when they are in need. Can you imagine the utter dumbfoundment on Elijah’s face the first time these birds dropped off his meal?

If you are spiritually dry right now, if the brook is running dry, then take a moment and consider how God is sustaining you. Such a reflection may surprise you. God’s grace may be through an unexpected friend or perhaps through a struggle that you sense the Lord is allowing for your eventual good. In recognizing God’s provision, you might find yourself closer to revival than you think. In all, we must remember the promise that “…God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). God wants to sustain and refresh you. 

Bible Reading for Today: John 18


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 8:28-30: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. [29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. [30] And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Questions to Consider 

1. God weaves everything together for the good of His children. The “good” in this passage does not suggest earthly comfort, but conformity to whom (verse 29)?    

2. What aspects of salvation are listed in this passage? 

3. We are told that God has always been doing “good” for us, starting from creation to the day of Christ’s return. How does this comfort you today? 

Notes 

1.  The “good” is conformity to Christ. God works for our good as we strive to be more like Christ. 

2. These are all aspects of salvation: justification (v.30), glorification (v.30) and sanctification (v.28 – in that God is working all things together for our good, presently). 

3. Personal response


Evening Reflection

“Our heavenly Father understands our disappointment, suffering, pain, fear, and doubt. He is always there to encourage our hearts and help us understand that He’s sufficient for all of our needs. When I accepted this as an absolute truth in my life, I found that my worrying stopped.” – Charles Stanley

November 29, Monday

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

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Important Precepts of Life Gleaned from a Hollywood Actor”

Proverbs 6:6

“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.”

While watching “Forrest Gump” on my flight back from Vietnam, I was reminded of the story of Mykelti Williamson, a struggling actor who became famous after playing the lovable “Bubba” in the 1994 movie.  Unable to afford an apartment early in his acting career, he once lived for 8 months in his Volkswagen bug where he managed to stuff his 6′ 2″ frame into it.  But “he refused to feel humiliated or give up his dream of an acting career by returning to his mom’s house.” So what kept him going?  No, it wasn’t a powerful sermon but something that a stranger had told him when the actor was a boy. “He was crying. He’d lost his job,” said Williamson, “but [the man] said, ‘Everything will be OK, because the harder you fall, the higher you bounce.’  I never forgot that.”  

Whether the thrice-married Williamson is a believer, we can still learn something from his example. How so?  Inasmuch as “good math” can be learned from a heathen teacher committed to mathematical truths, we can also learn something from unbelievers, who, having been created in God’s likeness (James 3:9), can show a thing or two about God’s precepts for life.  After all, we are told to consider the ways of an ant and be wise.

One truth Williamson demonstrates is this: Hard work pays off, which is taught in Proverbs 14:23: “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”  Another truth, applied to his pursuit of professional success (but not to his marriage) is this: Don’t give up, which Proverbs 24:16 infers (“For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again”).   

So, when difficult circumstances seek to smother you, remember to hang on, but to what?  One is our faith in Christ; and the other, a goal in life—without it caving-in comes easy.  Williamson added, “Even in our bleakest, loneliest moment, we can survive if we have a goal.”  The goal for the believers, as the apostle Paul articulated, is this: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).  

So, do you have a particular plan as to how to win this prize?  Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”  So, what is your goal in life?  It is never too late to ask God for one.  

Prayer: Heavenly Father, whenever I want to give up and stop caring about my life, remind me of how Christ didn’t give up but, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame . . . so that [I] will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:2-3). Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 17


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Pet. 2:12, 15: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us . . . For this is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”

Jeremiah 4:1-2: “If you, Israel, will return, then return to me,” declares the Lord. “If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, 2 and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ then the nations will be blessed by him and in him they will glory.”

Questions to Consider

1. What is one main factor that causes us to be ineffective in serving God and furthering his kingdom?

2. In what way did the failure of the Israelites to distinguish themselves among the nations hurt those very nations?

3. What is the best way to distinguish ourselves from the world so that what we do gives further credence to the greatness of our God?

Notes

1. We become co-opted by the values and practices of the secular world, thereby losing our Christian distinction, that is, our saltiness.  As a result, we become good for nothing as far as representing God.  In fact, we may become recipients of ridicule by the skeptics of the Christian faith. 

2. Israel’s wayward ways, in effect, blocked God’s channel of blessing for the nations since her undistinguishable life prompted the nations not to hold God in high regard.  They thought, “Why bother seeking the God of Israel when these Israelites prefer our god and our ways?”

3. Nothing is more powerful that leading a credible public life, backed by a corresponding private life, consisting of good and kind deeds performed “with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15). 


Evening Reflection

Did you have an opportunity to exalt God’s name today?  Wrap up your day by briefly journaling what happened today.  Pray for a more effective tomorrow.

November 28, Sunday

NEW Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI who had served as a staff at several AMI churches.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Love Your Enemies” 

Matthew 5:38-42

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Right now, my 12-year-old is dealing with an annoying kid in school.  I wouldn’t call him a bully as much as a nuisance.  Last week, when my son left his computer to take care of something his teacher needed him to do, this boy came over and messed up one of his projects.  A couple of days ago, my son reported that this same kid went around jabbing people with his pencil.  We live in a small town, so I know who this boy is; he is the kid who is often yelling at soccer refs and baseball umps when a call doesn’t go his way.  To be honest, this boy’s behavior pushes my specific buttons; I hate bullying behavior, disregard for other people’s property, disrespectfulness, entitlement, etc.  

As a parent, I try like crazy to kill off these characteristics in my children (and myself), but in this kid, I see them in spades.  Knowing this, it may not be surprising that I told my son, “Son, if you ever feel threatened by this kid, I would not be angry with you if you had to punch him to defend yourself.”  Now again, to be honest, I was kind of hoping that my son would take this as a license to slap this kid across the head to teach him a lesson, whether he actually felt “threatened.”  

Two points that need to be made here: one, I’m a sinful monster and possibly a terrible father; and two, Jesus’ teachings on loving one’s enemies are really difficult aren’t they?  Look, I’ve been a Christian for over 25 years, and as you can see, I still haven’t truly figured it out.  In this instance, my heart’s desire is for someone to teach this kid a lesson, not to love him.  I could have told my son, “If this kid stabs you with a pencil, give him a pen also, and then pray for him”, but this is obviously not the advice I gave.  I’m not going to pretend to know why this child acts as he does, but I do know that he, like the rest of us, needs the love and acceptance of the Savior who died for him.  

How about you?  Is there someone who God wants you to love, but for whatever reason, you have been treating as an enemy?  Perhaps it’s a family member, old friend, neighbor, co-worker, etc.?  I know it feels impossible but remember the Gospel and its power.  Jesus didn’t die on the cross because you were able to treat enemies as beloved friends; in fact, the opposite is true, he died because we all treated friends like enemies.  Even worse, we treated God, our greatest friend, as our enemy.  But instead of slapping us across the face, or taking our shirts, or making us go on a death march, God showed us his great mercy.  Ultimately, we can trust God for all things, and in this case, a better way to live, by loving those who may have wronged us.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for treating me as if I were the nicest human being on earth when, in fact, its opposite is true.  As I have been graced in Christ, remind me, strengthen me and demand that I extend that same grace to those who appear not so deserving of it.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today:  John 16

November 27, Saturday

Today’s blog, first posted on February 15, 2014, is provided by Pastor Ryun Chang.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Dying in Sleep”

Heb. 9:27

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. 

There was a time when Americans actually watched men’s tennis, which is presently dominated by great European players (Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, etc.).  It was when American players Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi dominated the sports, and before them, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors.   There was another American player who was very good, even winning a Grand Slam tournament in Australia.  But Vitas Gerulaitis, born to Lithuanian immigrant parents in Brooklyn, just wasn’t as good as McEnroe, Connors, or the Swedish star Bjorn Borg.   After retiring, he had made a successful transition to sportscasting and was also playing in the Champions Tour, a circuit for men 35 and over.  Life was good for Gerulaitis.  

In 1994, he was at the Racquet Club of East Hampton, Long Island, for a charity tennis clinic.  After the clinic ended, he headed to a friend’s oceanfront estate where he was staying for a brief rest.   Before leaving, he gave a friend a hug, telling her, “I’ll see you at 7 for dinner at the club.”  He never made it.  “A malfunction in an improperly installed pool heater caused carbon monoxide gas to seep into the guesthouse where Gerulaitis was sleeping, causing his death by carbon monoxide poisoning” (Wikipedia).  He was only 40 years old.  Some people get a warning (like a cancer diagnosis), but Gerulaitis neither got one nor knew what hit him.  In football, the term “sudden death” refers to winning the game by scoring first during the overtime; the following week, the losing team plays again.   But not in real life; once you die, whether suddenly or in a dreaded anticipation, there is no next week.  

Dying in sleep may be the best way to go, but not when you are 40 years old, and never when you are not right with God.   Actually, my first cousin also died while sleeping not too long ago of a heart attack.  He was only 43 years old.  I have no idea where Gerulaitis, who attended a Catholic high school, stood with God but my cousin knew the Lord.   We were very sad but not because he didn’t make it to heaven.  My cousin had that assurance for some time because he had long believed that “he who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life?” (1 Jn. 5:12).

What about you?   Do you have the Son?  Do you personally believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who died for you sins?   If you do, then are you living in such a way that you are always ready to meet God regardless of when He calls you home?   Since “this very night your life [may] be demanded from you” (Lk. 12:20), let us live as if today is our last.  So forgive, today.  Be generous, today.  Pray, today.   Make that call to that friend, today.  And if you don’t know Christ, then believe him, today!

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  May I always be ready to meet You whenever and however that may happen.  May I always forgive those who wronged me.  May I always ask for forgiveness from those whom I have wronged.  And may I live a life of generosity in all areas.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: John 14-15

November 26, Friday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on April 30, 2015, is written by Pastor David Son who pastors the Thrive Church in Taipei.  He is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley (BA) and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.). Stay up to date with the church plant by following them here: https://www.instagram.com/thrivechurchtaipei/

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The Ugliest ______ Contest”

2 Samuel 9:3-7

And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.”

One of the strangest and most peculiar contests that I’ve heard of is the “Ugliest Dog Contest” held annually in Petaluma, CA. I have mixed feelings about this, as one ugly dog after another is put on display and praised for its… ugliness! What a strange event! These “ugly” dogs are treated like tiny kings! Thousands attend this competition, and at the end of the day, one champion is crowned with the title “Ugliest Dog of the Year” and is given a trophy and prize money of $1,000. 

I have to think that Mephibosheth must have had many mixed feelings as well, as he was carried into the king’s presence. Not only was he crippled in his feet, Mephibosheth’s grandfather and King David did not have a great relationship: in fact, his grandfather (King Saul) had tried to murder King David on multiple occasions. And yet, for some strange reason, Mephibosheth was the recipient of royal treatment and honor in the king’s court.

David describes his gracious act as “the kindness of God” because this is the kind of God that we have. Our God remembers his covenant and shows steadfast love to generation after generation—including us! Much like Mephibosheth, we have done nothing to deserve the mercy and blessings of God, but because of who God is and what He has done for us on the cross, we can become children of the King! As we go through this day, let us be grateful to our good and merciful King. Furthermore, just as David did, let us also make an effort to be agents of the kindness of God to those around us, whether or not we feel like they deserve it.

Prayer: Lord, we praise You for who You are: “A God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Exodus 34:6b-7a).  Help us to demonstrate this God-flavored love to those around us today. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 13


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 John 1:16-18: By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Questions to Consider

  1. According to John, how do we know what love is?
  2. What does John say about giving to a brother/sister in need?
  3. Is there someone around you who is in need? How can you lay down your life for that person?

Notes

  1. John says that we know love through this: He (Jesus) laid down his life for us.
  2. John says that if we see a brother/sister in need, and we refuse to share our possessions, then we haven’t truly understood the love of God!
  3. Take a moment to notice the needs of those around you. Is there an action you can take to demonstrate Christ-like love this person?

Evening Reflection

Did love cost you something today? Whether it be time, money, labor, or some other resource, were you able to show Christ-like love to anyone today? Take a moment and thank God for His sacrificial and steadfast love for us. Remembering that God laid down everything for our sake, let us ask God to empower us to love others in a similar fashion.

November 25, Thursday 

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor David Kwon of Journey Community Church in Raleigh, was originally posted on November 28, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Happy Thanksgiving . . . Because of Him”

Psalm 117:1-2

Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! [2] For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!

This is the shortest Psalm in the Psalter, but as Derek Kidner rightly notes, its faith is “great” and “its reach is enormous.”  He added, “The shortest Psalm proves, in fact, to be one of the most potent and most seminal.”  How so?

The first striking feature of this Psalm is its call for all nations and all people to praise God. It is, therefore, a missionary psalm, calling on all peoples everywhere to extol God.   The second important feature is the reason why all nations should praise God: His steadfast love and faithfulness, which endures forever.  

On this day of Thanksgiving, we should be reminded of the greatness of His love for the nations as well as for us.   God expressed the fullest measure of His love for us in Christ; in Him, we have abundant life (Jn. 10:10) in this age and eternal life in the age to come.  The innumerable promises of the Lord, such as tarrying with us in our trials or answering our prayers, are as fresh and intact now as on the day they were made; and they will remain so.  

Take some time this morning praising and thanking the Lord for His love and faithfulness.  Meditate on the Cross and how it shows His great love for you.  May worship and praise arise as you think about Christ.

Prayer: Dear God, I thank You for everything!  Forgive me for complaining, pouting and comparing myself to others to complain and pout even more.  You are so good to me, Lord; and that’s all the more reason why I shall worship and praise You forever.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: John 12


Lunch Break

Read Ephesians 2:1-7: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—[3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. [4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—[6] and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, [7] so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Questions to Consider

1. According to verses 1-3, what is the true condition of humans?

2. In response, what has Christ done for humans in their miserable state?

3. What moves our Lord to do this?

Notes

1. Ephesians 2 is one of the deepest and richest passages in all of Scripture.  Paul describes man’s condition apart from the grace and mercy of Jesus in verse 1-3: man is not only spiritually dead but is an object of the wrath of God, who is holy and just.   

2. Thankfully, Jesus has not left men in their miserable state, but has chosen to rescue those chosen from the foundation of the world (1:3–6).  

3. It certainly is not any good we have done; being separated from God because of sins, we were undeserving of His love.  Whatever righteousness we thought we possessed was nothing but dirty rags (Isa. 64:6). What moves Him, Paul tells us, is His own mercy, love, grace, and kindness (Eph. 2:4–7).  It bears repeating that God has shown His grace and mercy when we did not deserve it.  It is only fitting that on this Thanksgiving Day, we spend some time thanking Jesus for His salvation and His great love for us.


Evening Reflection

One of our greatest needs as human beings is to be loved.  We have the need to know that we are important to somebody and that someone truly cares and accepts us unconditionally.  If this need is not met, we are liable to develop unacceptable behavior patterns to compensate for this need.

Remember, there is nothing we can do to make Jesus love us more, and nothing we will ever do will cause Him to love us any less. He loves us perfectly and completely regardless of how we perform; His love is unconditional.  Even if we don’t love ourselves, He still loves us. 

Having known and experienced His great love and mercy, we should show that same kindness to others in our lives.  Take some time to pray so that God’s love and mercy would be manifested abundantly in your life.  

November 24, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional is a reprint of Kate Moon’s blog originally posted on August 26, 2015.  Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Are You Doing It for Yourself?”

2 Kings 12:4-6

Joash said to the priests, “Collect all the money that is brought as sacred offerings to the temple of the LORD . . . Let every priest receive the money from one of the treasurers, and let it be used to repair whatever damage is found in the temple.”  But by the twenty-third year of King Joash the priests still had not repaired the temple.

Why had the priests failed to repair the temple?  Was it because of corruption or faulty spirituality?  Jehoiada, the leader of the priests at that time, instructed the king to do what was right in the eyes of the LORD (v. 2).  Was it because of a lack of organizational ability?  This was the same priest who had mobilized the nation’s leaders to execute the successful coup that put Joash on the throne.  In verse 8 is a suggestion of where the problem lay: “The priests agreed . . . that they would not repair the temple themselves.”  Both the priests and king had perhaps been thinking that only the priests were qualified to do this job when in actuality, it could only get done when they began involving others.

Sometimes we can keep looking to the same people to do everything because they seem like the best candidates.  When I was a high school English teacher, I worked with two student leaders on the school newspaper.  They were great, but because they were so great, they were also on the “most wanted” list for multiple other clubs on campus.  While this would look great on their college applications, it wasn’t the healthiest way for the school community to run.  They fulfilled their responsibilities for the paper, but just barely. And I can’t help but think how it would have been better if other students were involved who may not have been as obvious choices but who would have been devoted and able to contribute more than “just barely”—with the end result being a better paper.

Is there anything you’ve been trying to do yourself but find that it isn’t getting done?  Perhaps you need to admit your limitations, let go, and invite others to get involved.  Do you see something not getting done that is frustrating you?  Perhaps you need to offer to help out because those who are trying to do it themselves can’t do it alone.

Prayer: Lord, there are things, not only in my personal life but for Your greater kingdom purposes, that need to get done.  Help me to see my role, what I need to do (or let others do).  Thank you for the body of Christ, for we are in this together and none of us bears the responsibility alone.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 11


Lunch Break Study 

Read Acts 6:3, 7: 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them . . . 7 So the word of God spread.  The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Questions to Consider

1. How is the situation in this passage (early church) similar to that of King Joash’s time we read about this morning (v. 3)?

2. How are the people who were to receive this responsibility described (v. 3)?

3. What was the result of responsibility being turned over to others (v. 7)?  How do these verses challenge or encourage you in terms of your service to the Lord?

Notes

1. There was a group of people who needed to turn a responsibility over to others.

2. The community recognized them as being filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom.

3. The kingdom of God continued to advance.  When I am asked to take on a responsibility, it means that someone sees me, to some extent, as being wise and Spirit-filled.  And when I take on a responsibility, it contributes to the advancing of God’s kingdom—meaning, my service is significant.


Evening Reflection

As we reflect on the ways we are currently serving the Lord or considering getting involved, let’s take a moment to thank the Lord for the awesome privilege of being able to contribute to his kingdom work, of more people coming to know his love, more people being set free to truly live.

November 23, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on October 15, 2014.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Imposter Syndrome”

John 8:32 (ESV) 

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Once, I read about the so-called “impostor syndrome” that plagues those who believe that their present success is a result of an oversight–that they aren’t really that good.  Gripped by fear of being exposed, they constantly look over their shoulders.  While I was teaching in Acapulco in 2004, I met a Pentecostal pastor who fit that description.

Teaching on the Holy Spirit, I commented that speaking in tongues is not the only indicator of a person who is baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit; a transformed life that bears the fruit of the Spirit is surely a better gauge.   Several passages were examined, such as Acts 2:38-41 and 4:4, 31, which say nothing about speaking in tongues when people “receive[d] the gift of the Holy Spirit” and “were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”  In fact, at the moment we believe the gospel, “through the . . . renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5), “we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13).

During the break, a middle- aged pastor approached me with a look of disbelief and relief.   This man, believing that speaking in tongues was the only evidence for the baptism with the Holy Spirit, had prayed for others to receive that gift, but he himself didn’t have the gift.   Along with feeling embarrassed and even ashamed, he was even questioning his call to ministry; he felt like an imposter.  But the teaching he heard began the process of releasing him from the bondage rooted in a faulty concept.  

Regardless of different ways to help people to gain freedom from their problems (e.g., inner healing)— whether emotional, theological, or spiritual—truth should always be found at the center.   Jesus declared, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 17:32).  Some truths are self-evident, while others we must do some digging, but no one will be set free permanently apart from it.   So, study the Scripture; know and experience the truth in the Spirit (2 Cor. 2:17), which has the power to set us free.

Prayer: Father God, in the midst of so many lies and deceptions that surround us, it is a relief to know that eternal truths are readily available to us in your Scripture.  I must admit that I have not treated your Word with proper honor and respect.  Forgive me.  Help me to renew my desire for your truth.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 10


Lunch Break Study

Background: This was addressed to the Jewish exiles from Persia, who had returned to Jerusalem about 16 years earlier to rebuild the temple; however, they had stopped working on it after laying down the foundation (Ezra 3:10-4:24).

Read Haggai 1:2-4, 9-10: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce.”

Questions to Consider

1. What was the lie that the exiles believed which kept them from returning to work?

2. What did God do to help them see the truth?

3. What is the consequence of not heeding the truth? (It would be helpful to read Haggai 1.)              What is one truth of God that you need to heed right now?

Notes

1. The lie that they believed: “The reason we are not working on God’s house isn’t because we are unwilling, but it’s not the right time.  While waiting, we will just work on making our houses bigger and better” (suggested by “paneled house”).

2. God, through the Prophet Haggai, confronted their lie with a clear truth: “You aren’t thinking about My house; you only care about your house.”

3. Not heeding God’s truth has consequences, such as temporary suspension of His blessing upon our lives, including economy.   Disappointments fill the heart instead of contentment. 


Evening Reflection

We daily hear lies coming from all sides.  What is one lie that you heard today?  But let’s end the day with God’s truth.  What is one truth that He wants you to meditate upon right now?  “The truth shall set you free.”

November 22, Monday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Doug Tritton, was first posted on August 7, 2015.   A graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), Doug is the UC site pastor of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Sin is Crouching Out the Door”

2 Kings 5:25-27

He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.

Yesterday, we looked at this story of Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, who greedily took a gift from Naaman the Syrian, a gift that Elisha had first refused. He was unwilling to forego that gift; he felt they deserved it. Now, having taken the gift, Gehazi comes before Elisha. When asked where he had been, Gehazi lies to his master; but Elisha confronts Gehazi and calls him out for his greed. He saw through Gehazi’s lie and exposed the truth—that Gehazi had acted in self-centeredness.

So true are those words spoken by God long ago: “If you do not do well, sin is crouching out the door” (Gen. 4:7).  When we give room for sin, we just open the door for more and more sin. This is evident in the story woven by Gehazi, a story meant to deceive his master. When sin gets a hold of us, sometimes we do anything to keep it hidden—to keep up a good image.

What is the solution? Repentance! When sin gets into our hearts, it festers and breeds more sin. But when we allow the grace of God to enter, sin is plucked out like an unwanted weed. But the more we let the sin fester and grow, the deeper the root springs in our hearts and the more difficult it is to remove it. So today, let’s spend some time searching our hearts. Allow the Spirit of God to search through your heart, exposing any unconfessed sin, and let’s bring all our sin to the only One who forgives. 

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your amazing grace and mercy that covers over every sin. Let my heart be cleansed again in You today. Help me to trust in Your forgiveness rather than trying to lie and deceive to keep sin hidden. Lord, let Your light expose and remove the darkness in my heart. Come and minister to my heart today. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 9


Lunch Break Study

Read Ephesians 5:13-16: But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Questions to Consider

  1. What should we allow to be exposed by the light?
  2. How do we let the darkness in our hearts be exposed by the light?
  3. How can we walk as wise in this world?

Notes

  1. Darkness is overcome when exposed by the light. There is darkness in our hearts, darkness that has sprouted from sin, but when we bring our sin to God, bring it to the light, we find forgiveness and the darkness is immediately cast away. 
  2. Through repentance! When we awake from the sleep of sin and open our hearts to God’s merciful light, Christ shines on us with His amazing grace. Repentance often may feel heavy, feel difficult, but once we repent, there is light and joy as Christ’s love more deeply enters our hearts.
  3. Walking as wise means trusting in Christ and His forgiveness. Wisdom is shown most clearly in a humble heart that is willing to confess. This is true wisdom, humbly trusting in the grace of God. And the best use of our time is spending it with Jesus! So let’s come to Him, knowing that He is the provider of all we need.

Evening Reflection

Tonight, bring to the light any darkness that has remained hidden in your heart. Spend some time allowing God to search your heart, even the darkest corners and depths, so that His light may penetrate more fully. As you repent, allow the joy of the Lord to come and lift your soul in worship.