September 20, Thursday

Today’s AMI Quiet Time is provided by Pastor Peter Yoon who is the lead pastor at Kairos Christian Church in San Diego. 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Thank the Lord for Timely Friends”

Jeremiah 38:7-13 (NIV)

But Ebed-Melek, a Cushite, an official in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate, 8 Ebed-Melek went out of the palace and said to him, 9 “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city.” 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-Melek the Cushite, “Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.”11 So Ebed-Melek took the men with him and went to a room under the treasury in the palace. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 12 Ebed-Melek the Cushite said to Jeremiah, “Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.” Jeremiah did so, 13 and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard.

Our family recently moved into a new place—but not without some resistance from our children. In our previous home, our children had developed lots of friendships around the neighborhood. They spent hours and hours with friends engaging in all sorts of fun activities, but in moving into a new home, my kids (particularly our 4th grade son, Nathan) knew that they’d have to start anew the daunting task of making new friends. Soon enough, as our boys began to explore the new neighborhood, they met few other boys who were just as interested in sports, video games, …sports, video games…and more sports and video games. =)  That afternoon, Nathan came back home with a big smile on his face and said to me, “Dad, Nick and Tommy are my friends now.” There’s something about good friendships that even children know to value in life.

In this passage, Jeremiah was thrown into a well by the city’s officials. He had been warning of the impending doom of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonian Empire. God had revealed that the only chance for survival was to surrender. The public officials did not want the Jews to listen to Jeremiah’s prophecies, although the words came from God. So they approached King Zedekiah to obtain a permission to put away Jeremiah. The king, perhaps in despair or fear, barely raises any concern and says: “The king can do nothing to oppose you.” And the officials immediately arrest Jeremiah and leave him at the bottom of a well to die of starvation. Jeremiah was in a bleak and hopeless situation.

However, God sends a “friend,” a Cushite, to foil the plans of the officials and rescues Jeremiah from the well (see https://www.gotquestions.org/Cushites.html). The Cushite could have been severely punished by King Zedekiah for going against the wishes of the officials as well as the king’s permission to put away Jeremiah. With courage, the Cushite changes the mind of the king and carries out a rescue plan in lifting Jeremiah out of the well.

At times, God sends a timely friend. This “friend” might not be someone who is popular with the crowds, nor wealthy. This “friend” might even have been overlooked as an insignificant person. Yet, their timely presence and the encouragement he/she brings may perhaps be the difference between despair and hope.

Today, I’d like to encourage you to be that “friend” to others.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the friendships in my own life. But today, lead me in extending Your friendship to those around me in my workplace, school, church, neighborhood, etc. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Job 34


Lunch Break Study 

John 15:12-17 (NIV)  

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Questions to Consider

  1. What qualities does Jesus highlight in defining a friendship?
  2. What separates a mere servant from a friend in God’s Kingdom?
  3. What comparison does Jesus use in describing how we are to love others?

Notes

  1. Jesus highlights the quality of laying down one’s life. He also highlights obedience to the command of loving others.
  2. A servant is outside of God’s business plans, while a friend has been invited into knowing everything that Jesus had learned from the Father.
  3. Jesus says that we are to love others as “I have loved you.” It’s a tall order. However, when the Spirit of Christ dwells in your heart, you are moved to love others as Jesus has loved us.

Evening Reflection

How are you being a friend to those around you these days? In what practical ways can you show your friendship and encouragement to few people in your own life?

September 19, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Through Thick and Thin”

Jeremiah 37:11-21 (NASB)

Now it happened when the army of the Chaldeans had lifted the siege from Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s army, 12 that Jeremiah went out from Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin in order to take possession of some property there among the people. 13 While he was at the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah the son of Hananiah was there; and he arrested Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are going over to the Chaldeans!” 14 But Jeremiah said, “A lie! I am not going over to the Chaldeans”; yet he would not listen to him. So Irijah arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. 15 Then the officials were angry at Jeremiah and beat him, and they put him in jail in the house of Jonathan the scribe, which they had made into the prison. 16 For Jeremiah had come into the dungeon, that is, the vaulted cell; and Jeremiah stayed there many days.

17 Now King Zedekiah sent and took him out; and in his palace the king secretly asked him and said, “Is there a word from the Lord?” And Jeremiah said, “There is!” Then he said, “You will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon!” 18 Moreover Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “In what way have I sinned against you, or against your servants, or against this people, that you have put me in prison? 19 Where then are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land’? 20 But now, please listen, O my lord the king; please let my petition come before you and do not make me return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, that I may not die there.” 21 Then King Zedekiah gave commandment, and they committed Jeremiah to the court of the guardhouse and gave him a loaf of bread daily from the bakers’ street, until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the court of the guardhouse.

We live in a world of ideas. Whether at school, work or church, one will most certainly encounter someone expressing their ideas, or express their own. However, one of the many critiques set against this age of ideas, is society’s growing inability to discuss ideas without becoming combative. Timothy Muehlhoff of Biola University once lamented how we now live in, what he calls, the “argument culture.” Interestingly enough, I don’t believe we’ve only recently entered the argument culture. Mankind has been fighting over ideas for quite some time, from current socio-political issues to biblical times. Sometimes debates over ideas has been civil, while others have not. In extreme cases, people have even experienced violence for expressing themselves. In fact, the further back in time one goes, the more violence over ideas one would expect to see. The prophet Jeremiah, for example, was imprisoned and beaten for faithfully expressing the Word of God.

In the passage above we see Jeremiah make his way to the land of Benjamin to claim property. When Jeremiah reaches the gate, the captain, Irijah, accuses Jeremiah of defecting to the Chaldeans. Several years prior to this, Jeremiah had been preaching the word he’d received from God, warning Israel of the coming destruction of the city (Jer. 21:9 [NASB]). Irijah probably concluded that Jeremiah’s message stood against the best interests of Benjamin. Because of this, despite Jeremiah’s denials, Jeremiah is arrested and imprisoned without trial. Pausing here in the narrative, I can’t help but wonder how often the message of the Gospel is deduced to be against the best interest of the people, especially here in California. The reality of the current cultural climate is sometimes troubling to reflect on. How often do I sweep my convictions aside, succumbing to social pressure? In Pastor Josh’s words, “How often do we [I] live as if God didn’t exist?” Do I have the strength to go to prison for the Gospel? Or to the grave?

As the passage progresses, things do not improve for Jeremiah. He is brought from the prison, in secret, before King Zedekiah and asked, “Is there a word from the LORD?” (Jer. 37:17 [NASB]). Now it’s obvious, Zedekiah isn’t asking for the actual word of God, rather, for some favorable news regarding the kingdom. Sometimes I ask myself what makes someone a hero. Generally, a hero is someone admired for their courage or accomplishments, or perhaps both. Unflinching, Jeremiah looks into the eyes of the king, and delivers God’s message exactly as revealed. “You will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon!” (Jer. 37:17 [NASB]). What makes someone a hero? Standing in the face of the authorities that threaten you with prison and death, and holding firm to God’s word. I hope we can all look to God for the strength to follow Jeremiah’s example. Let’s stand hand-in-hand together for God’s word, holding steadfast to the Truth, speaking it to the world in love.

Prayer: Father, it’s easy for me to be strong and stand up for you in church, around brothers and sisters in Christ and in my quiet time alone with You. It becomes much more complicated when I fear for my job, my freedom, my safety or even meaningless things, like social status. I pray You would remind Your church every day, that in You we find the resolve to stand up for the Truth. We need you more and more each day.

Bible Reading for Today: Job 33 (We apologize for the error on yesterday’s QT. The reading should have been Job 32. It has been corrected accordingly.)


Lunch Break Study

Read: 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;” (NASB)

Questions to Consider

  1. What did Paul’s “course” look like?
  2. What would “finishing the course” look like in today’s day and age?
  3. Reflect on this passage and consider what “finishing the course” would look like in your own life

Notes

  1. Paul went from high social status as a Pharisee, to (what the pagans considered) a persecuted “cult leader” as he traveled all over to spread the Gospel and plant churches. Like the rest of the apostles, Paul endured beatings, imprisonment, torture and ultimately death for the sake of Christ, all with complete confidence in his convictions and commitment to God. Paul, like Jeremiah and the others God has called for His work, sets a shining example for the church to follow.
  2. Though the difficulties we experience may take many forms,  finishing the course in modern times may look much the same as the past: looking to God for the strength to stand beside brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of the Gospel.
  3. Ultimately, I to serve full time in ministry. I’m not sure exactly how that will manifest, or where in the world my service will take me, so for now my answer is a bit generic: I simply hope I can faithfully serve God and His people, until my days are spent.

Evening Reflection

According to Kairos’ Pastor Peter, the most misquoted verse in the Bible may be Phil. 4:13. Time after time this verse is cited when we haven’t trained quite as hard as we should have for the upcoming Spartan race. However in the context of standing firm for the Gospel, Paul’s words are quite relevant. Reflect on the idea of finding strength to endure in God, and what that means for you.

September 18, Tuesday

Charles Graham

The AMI QT Devotionals for September 18-19 are provided by Charles Graham. Charles is a new intern with Kairos, who came aboard in September of 2017. He is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology to prepare himself for a life of service and ministry.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Full Circle: Everything Comes Back to God”

Jeremiah 37:1-10 (NASB)

Zedekiah the son of Josiah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah, reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim. 2 But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the LORD that he spoke through Jeremiah the prophet. 3 King Zedekiah sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the priest, the son of Maaseiah, to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “Please pray for us to the LORD our God.” 4 Now Jeremiah was still going in and out among the people, for he had not yet been put in prison. 5 The army of Pharaoh had come out of Egypt. And when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news about them, they withdrew from Jerusalem. 6 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet: 7 “Thus says the LORD, God of Israel: Thus shall you say to the king of Judah who sent you to me to inquire of me, ‘Behold, Pharaoh’s army that came to help you is about to return to Egypt, to its own land. 8 And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city. They shall capture it and burn it with fire. 9 Thus says the LORD, Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chaldeans will surely go away from us,” for they will not go away. 10 For even if you should defeat the whole army of Chaldeans who are fighting against you, and there remained of them only wounded men, every man in his tent, they would rise up and burn this city with fire.’”

I’ve been privileged to work closely with Pastor Joshua Chzen of Kairos. Once, he challenged us by asking, “How often do we live as if God does not exist?” The absurdity of a godless worldview is so paternally obvious that Pastor Josh did not dwell on it too much; instead, he highlighted how Christians habitually succumb to the pressures of a society that has long forgotten God. As difficult as this was to hear, he rightly pointed out how often we fall short by ignoring the nudging of the Spirit to heed God and His eternal truth.

Full CircleIn today’s passage, Jeremiah recounts how King Zedekiah would not listen to the word of God (v. 2). And it wasn’t until Judah was besieged that the king asked Jeremiah to pray to God on their behalf (v. 3). Essentially, only when Zedekiah’s back was against the wall did he turn to God. Christians are no different. We are constantly buffeted by the push and pull of our secular world; and, too often, the pressures can become so great that we ignore our convictions, effectively living as if God wasn’t here. It is only when all the chips are down, like Zedekiah, that we turn to Him in submission. Everyone and everything will (Rom. 11:36). But, we ought to look to God first, rather than waiting for calamity. I pray we ponder on this together daily, reminding one another of Whom we are committed to.

We can also find comfort in the rest of the passage (Jer. 37:7-11). Here, Jeremiah receives word from God that the kingdom will be destroyed, just as previously proclaimed. God’s word will be done. Though this does not bode well for Zedekiah, the simple notion that God’s word will come to pass is most uplifting.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4 [NASB]).

What could be more heartwarming than to realize what has been promised by God! Remember, regardless of the difficulties of the Christian life, God’s word is true. Everything starts and ends with Him.

This is the full circle.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the truth of Your Word. I am so thankful that I can call You my foundation. Lord, I don’t ever want to live as if You aren’t here. Please remind me every single day of who You are, so I may, in turn, reflect who You are to others in how I live.

Bible Reading for Today: Job 32


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 11:36 (NASB): “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What does this short, yet powerful, passage mean?
  2. What does the meaning of the passage imply?
  3. Reflect your life in light of the message of this terse verse.

Notes

  1. This passage is the declaration that “all things” find their origins in, are maintained by and ultimately return to God. He is the Creator, Sustainer and Judge of everything in existence.
  2. As the Creator of all things, God is the necessary precondition for anything to exist or occur. This includes, but is by no means limited to, the existence of the universe, life, logic, morale experience, etc. Without God at the beginning of everything, the world falls into absurdity.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

In your personal quiet time with God, consider the enormity of His power and reach as He is described in Rom. 11:36. With this in mind, reflect on the idea that, although God has this immense power and influence, He also has the temperament described in Matt. 11:28-30: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

September 17, Monday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by Esther Chailim. Esther, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently serving as the Director of Ministries at Kairos Christian Church (San Diego) and pursuing a Masters in Christian Ministry and Leadership at Talbot School of Theology.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Heart of Prayer”

Jeremiah 37:1-8

“Zedekiah son of Josiah was made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he reigned in place of Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim.Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet. King Zedekiah, however, sent Jehukal son of Shelemiah with the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to Jeremiah the prophet with this message: “Please pray to the Lord our God for us.” Now Jeremiah was free to come and go among the people, for he had not yet been put in prison. Pharaoh’s army had marched out of Egypt, and when the Babylonians who were besieging Jerusalem heard the report about them, they withdrew from Jerusalem.Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of me, ‘Pharaoh’s army, which has marched out to support you, will go back to its own land, to Egypt. Then the Babylonians will return and attack this city; they will capture it and burn it down.’”

Picture1As a teenager, I went through a rebellious stage and took out my frustration and
bitterness on my mother.  Sadly, this ultimately put a strain in our relationship for years to follow.  However, several years after I became a believer, the Lord stirred my heart to pray for our relationship to heal.  Living 100 miles apart, I thought this was the least I could do. So, I began to pray for my mom’s salvation and for our relationship to be restored. I prayed that God would soften her heart so that she could know Jesus.  I prayed that God would give me patience and help me to love her as Christ loves her.  I prayed that somehow, He would miraculously heal our relationship. But, as time passed, the tension in our relationship only deepened. After visits home to see my mom, feelings of guilt arose as I realized how quickly I got agitated over miniscule things. Frustrated, I thought, “God, why arent you answering my prayers?  Why isn’t our relationship changing? I don’t understand!

One day, as my mom and I were taking a stroll in the park, we got into a heated disagreement, leaving me feeling pretty down.  We parted ways and once again, I was left feeling both upset and guilty. Later that week, I felt the Lord pierce my heart where it hurt the most: my pride.  He revealed to me that my attitude towards my mom was sinful because up until that point, I had always felt justified in my actions towards her. And though I felt guilty, I wasn’t willing to let all the past hurts go.  In short, He revealed a new depth of my sin that I had never realized.

In the passage today, we read about King Zedekiah asking Jeremiah for prayer. Threat was upon the king, and he was desperate for help.  Though the Lord had already prophesied Babylon’s defeat over Jerusalem (Jer. 21:4-7), Zedekiah ignored the Lord and still pleaded for a favorable outcome.  The problem is that the king was looking for circumstantial change, butunwilling to submit himself to hear from God (v. 2).  In turn, God did not answer Zedekiah’s prayer.

My prayers for my mom, though earnest and seemingly “holy,” were no different than Zedekiah’s prayer.  In truth, I wanted my circumstances, that is, my mom, to change, but I wasn’t positioning myself to hear what God wanted to reveal about me.  It wasn’t until God disclosed my sin that I was able to finally hear from God and repent of my bitterness, judgement and pride.  Then, and only then, did I truly begin to see my relationship with my mom change; not because SHE changed, but because God changed me.  

Often times, we subconsciously come to prayer with a set agenda.  We pray for people and things to change, and yet we forget that we need to be changed. I still struggle with this, but more and more, I realize that prayer is not about changing circumstance; prayer is about changing us.  The question is, do we allow God to mold and shape us through prayer?  

Prayer: Lord, You are in control, not me.  Help me to lay aside my own plans and surrender them to You.  I invite You, Holy Spirit, to come and speak into the areas of my life that are self-seeking. Help me to be God-centered and continue to shape and mold me to be more like Jesus. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Job 31


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 66:16-20: Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. 17 I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. 18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; 19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. 20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!

Questions to Consider

  1. How can we posture ourselves in prayer?
  2. What is one reason God does not answer prayer?
  3. In respect to #2, does this mean that we have to be sinless for God to hear my prayers?
Notes
  1. One way we can posture ourselves in prayer is to have reverence for God, acknowledging that He is the one in control and we are subject to His good will and purpose. Secondly, we can posture ourselves with praise on our tongues.
  2. King David reveals that one hindrance in God’s willingness to hear our prayers is when we continue to walk in sin and do not repent of those sins. We can’t live a consistently sinful lifestyle and expect God to hear our prayers.
  3. In verse 18, David uses the phrase, “if I had cherished sin.”  Though it is true that we are sinners, even after we become Christians, David’s use of the word “cherished” indicates the kind of sin we hold on to and are unwilling to let go of.  God isn’t expecting us to be sinless, but He does call us to face our sins and confess them.

Evening Reflection

Reflect on some of the things you are currently praying for.  Ask yourself if you are having a right heart posture as you pray for these things?  Are you allowing God to speak to you and change you, or are you just praying for circumstances to change?  Take some time to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your heart motive.  

September 16, Sunday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Intercessory Prayer Part 2 – “Prayer Changes Things”

Ephesians 6:10-13, 17

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm…18  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…

8671DB6B-C915-4B1B-B5EE-72C7CE6E1DFA.jpegYesterday, we started a twopart series on Intercessory Prayer. In the first part, we talked about how God has given us authority in the heavenly places. He has “seated us” with Christ, which means we have dominion in the spiritual realm. Thus, if we have dominion and authority in the heavenly places, our words affect the spiritual realm. This is a critical component tointercessory prayer.

In today’s passage, Paul uses similar language to our verses from yesterday. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” We have authority in the heavenly places, yet there are forces that are working against our authority, and more importantly, working against Christ’s authority. This passage is calling us to battle against these forces and this is the heart of intercessory prayera spiritual battle in which we use our authority in Christ to oppose the spiritual forces of evil, which are the forces of the devil.

Intercessory prayer is a battle. It’s the tool for using our heavenly authority to combat the enemy and his schemes that oppose God’s kingdom.Intercessory prayer changes things. Our words matter. Some people may feel uneasy about this. Isn’t God the one in control? If our words affect the spiritual realm, doesn’t that undermine God’s authority? God, in His grace, shares His authority with us. God is fully in control, yet in His goodness He gives some control over to us. If you are still unconvinced, read Luke 9:1 (“he gave them power and authority”) or Matthew 18:18 (“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven”). Think of this like a form of the Radical Middle of “both/and”: God is fully in control and yet we also have authority in the spiritual realm such that our prayers change things.

So what should we do about this? We should pray in boldness. Prayer is not simply a religious activity, something we do in obligation to God. We pray knowing that our prayers affect reality. We pray to see changes happen. Pray for your family who are not believers. Pray for healing for your friend who is sick or injured. Pray for your church to make a greater impact in your area. Pray for your city or town to look more and more like God’s kingdom. These are not merely physical mattersthese are spiritual issues, in the heavenly realm. Pray boldly, pray with authority because our prayers affect spiritual reality. Prayer changes things.

Remember: God has given you authority in the heavenly places so that we may wage war in the heavenly places. He’s given us prayer as a tool for this. So, will you use it?

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the authority You’ve given me in the heavenly places. I know there is a battle being waged in these heavenly places, so give me boldness to jump into this fight, knowing that my prayers matter. Lord, teach me to pray in Your power, by Your Spirit. May I keep on praying, knowing this is the greatest weapon You have given me.

Bible Reading for Today: Job 30

September 15, Saturday

The AMI QT Devotionals for September 14-15 are provided by Pastor Doug Tritton who serves at Symphony Church in Boston.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Intercessory Prayer Part 1 – We Have Authority”

Ephesians 2:4-7

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.

Today and tomorrow we will be talking about intercessory prayer. In order to understand intercessory prayer, we need to first understand who we are. To this end, I want to make a bold claim: we think too lowly of ourselves. I imagine many may react to this statement, thinking, Wait, I am prideful – I actually think too highly of myself. And that is probably true for many of us, including me. I am prideful. But, often our pride causes us to think highly of ourselves in the wrong way—meaning, we think highly of ourselves in comparison to others, according to earthly standards. Our pride leads us to think we are smarter, more athletic, better at our jobs than our co-workers, or better looking than our friends—all earthly things.

However, when I say that we think too lowly of ourselves, I mean it in a heavenly sense. We do not understand the power and authority that has been given us in Christ, and what this means for our spiritual lives. Our passage tells us that God has “seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” This word “seated” is a word that confers authority.  Earlier in Ephesians, Paul writes, “[God] raised [Jesus] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20). Did you notice the similarity between this verse and v. 6 of today’s passage? Jesus was given a seat of authority in the heavenly places, and likewise God gives us a seat of authority in the heavenly places along with Christ. Perhaps you are thinking that this verse is speaking of the future, in the new heavens. Yet, this is written in the past tense; God has seated us, not will seat us. It’s already been done. Authority in the heavenly places has already been given to us.

But what exactly are these heavenly places? Well, when God created mankind in Genesis 1, He gave authority to mankind over earth. We were given dominion: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:28)—this was dominion over earthly places. In Christ, we now have dominion in the heavenly places as well, over the spiritual realm—in the invisible realm where spiritual forces are work. We have dominion and authority in this realm as well. And if we have authority, this means our words and our prayers matter—our words affect the spiritual realm. This is intercessory prayer. We will talk more about this tomorrow.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for giving me authority in the spiritual realm. Help me to remember this, to remember this identity You have given me. Help me to not think too lowly or think wrongly of who I am. And since You have given me this authority, teach me to partner with You through prayer to use this authority in the heavenly places in a way that builds Your kingdom. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Job 28-29

September 14, Friday

Today’s AMI Quiet Time is provided by Pastor David Yoon of Tapestry LA Church.

Devotional Thought for the Day

“Stand in the Gap”

Ezekiel 22:30-31

And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. 31 Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God.”

When I was a youth pastor, I led a team on a short-term mission trip to Cambodia and Vietnam. For two weeks we partnered with local churches and organizations and helped host several Vacation Bible Schools. One day the pastor we were working with requested our team to do a one-day VBS program for a group of 30 orphaned and abandoned children. When it was time for lunch, each of the children received a small Styrofoam box with rice and one piece of fried chicken—each boxed meal was less than 25 cents.

After we prayed for the food we told them to start eating, but none of them would open their box. Confused, we asked a child why he wasn’t eating. He replied to the pastor’s wife, “Auntie, can we eat all of this? Will we get food later?” She assured the children that there would be more food later and the children began to eat. Our team learned that there were times when the children would receive only one meal a day so they wanted to save it. Our hearts broke and I left the room to pray. In tears, I asked God why these children had to suffer, and deep inside my heart, I felt the Holy Spirit convict me, “David, this is why I brought you here. Will you love these children?” Have you ever experienced a tremendous burden for the lost?

In today’s passage, Israel’s reputation has become “an infamous city full of turmoil” (22:5). They were worshipping false gods, defiling the name of God, and the cities were full of violence and idolatry. God sought for an individual who would be willing to stand in the breach when the nation was in moral and spiritual crises. In the past, He found Moses, Deborah and Daniel who were willing to stand in the breach; but here in this passage, we see that God couldn’t find anyone. The word “breach” can be translated as an act of breaking a law, an agreement, or code of conduct, as well as a hole that has been made in the walls. If you stepped into the breach, you stood in front of the hole in order to stop enemies from entering. God’s plan for reaching ungodly people and nations is still the same today. He is looking for godly men and women to stand in the gap: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

In light of this, let us pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give us the strength and boldness to stand in the gap today. Whether it’s in our workplace, home or nation, may we have the heart of apostle Paul who said, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers….” Let us look to Christ who stood in the gap, demonstrating His love towards us through His death and resurrection.

Prayer: Father God, Your mercies are new every morning. Will You forgive me for the wickedness in my heart. Open my eyes and heart to see the brokenness around me. Give me the boldness to live out my faith and shine the light of the gospel. I pray for those who have yet to hear of Your Name. Allow me to be Your hands and feet wherever I am. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

Bible Reading for Today: Job 27


Lunch Break Study

Read Isaiah 40:29-31: He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does Isaiah remind us that one day our human strength will fail?
  2. What does it mean to wait for the Lord?

Notes

  1. This is a time when the Jews have been exiled in Babylon. They have lost their home and have been in captivity for many decades and are living in despair. They believed that God had abandoned them and have lost sight of hope. At this time Isaiah prophesizes and reminds them to not doubt but to trust in God and redirects the people of Israel toward renewal in hope. Isaiah reminds us that we are no match for the demands of life but God will renew our strength.
  2. To wait on the Lord is not a matter of willpower but of expectancy. There are times when God will delay His answer and we wonder why He is slow in intervening. But waiting on the Lord means that we trust that He will come at the perfect moment.

Evening Reflection

Find a place suited for silence and solitude. Acknowledge the presence of God. Read and reflect on Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”