May 29, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Jabez Yeo who is now a friend of AMI, was first posted on August 1, 2016.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (B.S.) and Columbia International University where he studied Islam (M.A.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Adoptionism!” Sounds Good But Is It Biblical? 

Proverbs 10:17

He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray.

You wouldn’t think that such a feel-good word like “adoption” could create a theological controversy, but it did in the early church.  Proponents of this errant view called “adoptionism” explained that Jesus’ divinity consisted of His special relationship with God the Father, which only began at His baptism. By default, supporters of adoptionism denied the Trinity, as they placed Jesus above all men due to His elevation to sonship by the Father but below God due to His humanity and God’s absolute oneness.

Thankfully, the work of the earliest theologians helped to combat adoptionism. Some pointed to verses such as Colossians 2:9 (“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”) to establish that Jesus had both divine and human nature. Others, such as the theologian Irenaeus, used Romans 5 and other parts of Scripture to explain that without Christ’s full divinity and humanity, salvation is impossible.  In light of these works, Pope Victor I, the first bishop of Rome, rightly and forcefully condemned adoptionism as a heresy. 

Unfortunately, Victor I’s forceful personality created disunity at times. As mentioned in an earlier devotional, Victor I’s feud with the Quartodecimans (those who celebrated Easter on Passover instead of Sunday) led him to rashly excommunicate them from the church.  It took other theologians such as Irenaeus who, despite agreeing with Victor I, urged him to withdraw his sentence to preserve unity. Thankfully, Victor I heeded their advice and the churches in Asia, where most of the Quatrodecimans resided, remained in communion with the Western church.

Despite our good intentions, all of us, like Victor I, will eventually sin against others through our words or actions. When those times come, do we have people who can speak into our lives and instruct us in truth? Even if we do, do we have the humility to listen to them? Let’s pray that God will supply us with both godly advisors and the humility to listen to their wisdom.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the gift of community, and that You yourself are the best representation of community as the Three-in-One, Father, Son and Spirit. Lord, help me to seek out godly men and women who can help me run this race with perseverance when I fall. Give me the humility to listen to You speaking through them, so that I can continue to fight the good fight. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Exodus 27

Lunch Break Study 

Read John 1:1-3: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 8:56-8: Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

Questions to Consider

1. Refute adoptionism based on John 1:1-3. 

(Note: The Greek word logos, translated as word, refers to Christ.)  

2. Refute adoptionism based on John 8:57-9. (Note: Recall that Abraham had lived about 2,000 years before the incarnation of Christ.)

3. In your own words, describe the dual nature of Christ.


1. John 1:1-3 makes three assertions about Christ: first, He existed before “the beginning”; second, He has always existed along with God the Father; third, He, in fact, is the Creator of everything.

2. Accordingly, Jesus predates Abraham, even though the latter had lived 2,000 years earlier.  The Jews clearly understood its implication: Jesus was claiming to be eternal.

3. Jesus is fully man and fully God, equal to God the Father in divine essence and has always existed; He has no beginning.

Evening Reflection

In light of all that we have talked about—mainly, the eternality of Christ—it would be fitting to end this day with a brief worship.   Let’s meditate on Psalm 95:6: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”  Relate this to John 1:3 and think about why this psalm is appropriate in worshiping Christ.

May 28, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, first posted on June 12, 2016, is provided by Phillip Chen who is associate pastor at Kairos Christian Church in San Diego. Phil is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.). 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend


Galatians 4:21-31 (ESV)

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.27 For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” 28 Now you brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

When God called Abraham to leave all that he had to follow Him, He made a promise to make Abraham a father of a great nation. However, Abraham had no son, because Sarah was barren. As Abraham and Sarah continued to wait year after year, they began to waver in their faith that God would give them a son. Over ten years passed by and they still had not given birth to a son. Sarah was already beyond the natural-child bearing age, and probably began to wonder if they had heard God wrong. Sarah ended up reasoning that perhaps, through Hagar, her servant, they would be able to have children. Abraham and Hagar end up conceiving, and gave birth to a son, Ishmael. However, Ishmael was not the son that was to fulfill the promise that God had given to Abraham. Fourteen years later, Sarah, at the age of 90, gave birth to Isaac, the son that God had promised to Abraham. 

Paul uses this story to help us understand the difference between those justified by the law, and those justified by grace. Ishmael, who was conceived by Hagar, is a representation of human effort. Ishmael was the result of a lack of faith in God, being born of natural means. On the other hand, Isaac, who was conceived by Sarah, is a representation of God’s grace. Isaac was the result of faith in God, being born of supernatural means. Now, Paul contrasts these two and brings it into context for the Galatians — Those that want to be justified by the law are descendants of Ishmael, a lineage marked by human effort. Those that want to be justified by grace are descendants of Isaac, a lineage marked by God’s grace. 

Paul reminds us that we are sons of grace, descendants of Isaac and not Ishmael. We are His children by His grace and not by our efforts. But why does he continue to re-emphasize this point about grace over works? Paul seems to know something about our human nature and what we are influenced by. We live in a works-based society, and are heavily influenced by that. In fact, if we do not take regular pauses out of our day to remember His grace in our lives, we will fall into the lie that we deserve everything we have because we have worked hard for it. It is so easy to be influenced by legalism that we are actually told to cast it out of our presence. Legalism leads to spiritual pride. Spiritual pride blinds us to the needs of others around us, to the point where we are unable to extend grace and mercy to those around us. Grace, on the other hand, leads to humility. Humility leads to receiving grace from God and extending grace to others. 

Have you accepted His grace? Humble yourself today and remind yourself that you have been made a child of God because of His grace. May this be a refreshing reminder that we are recipients of amazing grace and may it cause our hearts to leap with true joy!

Prayer: Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found! Was blind, but now I see. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Exodus 26

May 27, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Doug Tritton, was first posted on May 7, 2016.  A graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), Doug is the Lead Pastor of Grace Covenant Church, Philadelphia. 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Hope and Resurrection”

Acts 23:6-8

Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.

I really enjoy fantasy – movies, books, anything. There is something about fantasy that excites my imagination. I do not think it’s surprising that C.S. Lewis used fantasy in the Chronicles of Narnia to metaphorically speak of the Christian life. Fantasy lifts our minds out of the monotony of everyday life to a place that seems joyful, exciting, and fresh. 

Yet, this feeling should be the same when we think of our hope and resurrection. The new heaven and the new earth will be a place where we will have eternal joy, where we will no longer have pain, and where we will be with our King forever. I remember a friend giving me advice, saying, that as someone with a large imagination, I should turn my imagination to thinking about heaven because reflecting on our eternity with God ultimately brings hope. But this same advice applies to all us – we ought to reflect on heaven more. 

Paul was on trial for proclaiming this hope in Christ. Paul was a man who constantly reflected on eternity with God – just read his letters and you can tell he longed for heaven. How about you? Have you been longing for heaven lately, or has everyday life distracted you from eternity. Shift your mind to heaven, remember eternity, and suddenly everything will seem lighter, easier. Just like a great fantasy story that lifts us out of monotony, as we reflect on our eternity with Christ, on the truth of our resurrection into the new heaven and new earth, we will find that this life will be much easier to bear.

Prayer: Lord, thank You that You have written eternity in our hearts. Let us not block out the truth of eternity with everyday troubles, but help us to remember that we have a hope of a future forever with You. Help us to long for our true home with You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Exodus 24-25

May 26, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, which was first posted on February 19 , 2016, is provided by Pastor Ryun Chang who serves as AMI Teaching Pastor.

Devotional Thought for This Morning


Acts 4:32-7

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

While the adherents of capitalism wouldn’t be able to say, “There was not a needy person among [us],” that was the claim long made by the communists.  But, once the iron curtain came down in Eastern Europe, we discovered that the communist leaders lived in nicer homes and ate better food, while the needs of the rest were barely met.  

Not a few Christian leaders, unhappy about individualism and commercialized churches, have called for the church to return to the practices of the early church, like meeting at homes for fellowship.  Nevertheless, none has been so radical to suggest that their followers sell their “possession and give to the poor” (Mt. 19:21) and worship God all day (Acts 2:42).  

But, are we offering the Lord a lukewarm, lip service by not doing what Barnabas did—presumably selling all that he had and giving the profit to the church?  Not necessarily.  One factor that prompted the early Christians to go beyond simple generosity was their anticipation of Christ’s imminent return.   Some actually claimed that “the day of the Lord has already come” (2 Thess. 2:2).  But under the rubric of progressive revelation, the church, in time, would learn that that may not happen any time soon, which meant that they actually needed to live.   Therefore, Paul told those who stopped working, on account of Christ’s imminent return and lived off of other people’s food (3:8), “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (3:9).  So the normal Christian life isn’t living on the dole but working hard to provide for our daily sustenance.  

But that’s not the only reason, as Paul told former thieves, “Do[] something useful with [your] own hands, that [you] may have something useful with those in need” (Eph. 4:28).  The fact that most of us aren’t that generous is why we need to be inspired by the early believers and their leaders who, unlike the communists, used every penny to help the needy instead of helping themselves.  And who knows—while you’re reading this passage again, the Holy Spirit might convict you to literally sell everything to serve God.   But for now, practice generosity.  

Prayer: I sing for joy to God our strength who has given me everything I need!  It is my greed for more and envy of other’s possessions that have kept me from truly recognizing all that You have given me.  Lord, now that I see this, motivate me to be decisive about sharing Your blessings in my life with those in need.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Exodus 23

Lunch Break Study

Read Amos 3:15-4:1: This is what the LORD says . . . “I will tear down the winter house along with the summer house; the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed and the mansions will be demolished,” declares the Lord. 1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!”

Amos 6:5-7: You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments.6 You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. 7 Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end.

Question to Consider

1. Amos prophesized during the reign of the evil King Jeroboam II in the 8th century B.C. (2 Kings 14:23-9). Based on this passage, what was the economic state of Israel at that time?

2. Of course, it would helpful to read the entire Amos but based on this passage, what did the wealthy Israelites do with what God had given them?

3. How would you summarize God’s reaction against those who refused to help out the needy with what God had given them?   Are you doing better?   


1. The terms “winter house,” “summer house,” the houses adorned with “ivory,” “mansion,” “wine by the bowlful,” and “finest lotions” strongly suggest that this was a time of unparalleled prosperity.  The irony, of course, is that God granted such prosperity despite Jeroboam II, who was an evil king.  It was also under his reign that the territory of Israel was greatly extended. 

2. Instead of helping the poor and alleviating the sufferings of the needy, those who had been blessed by God oppressed the poor and crushed the needy, while they themselves lived it up in wanton pleasure.

3. In short, God was not happy.  Despite the fact that the Lord had blessed the Israelites who were being led by an evil king, they, instead of turning to God in gratitude, became more selfish, heartless and narcissistic.  For that and other reasons, God sentenced them to an exile where they couldn’t live like that anymore.  But God wasn’t being punitive; rather, He was being restorative (Heb. 12:10), so that they would learn to use God’s blessing in their lives to do His work. 

Evening Reflection

As you near the end of this day, did you have an opportunity to be generous with your time, money (or possessions, like your car) and talent?  Would you say that you are sharing God’s blessing with those in need?  Pray about how you can do better tomorrow, so that people can see Christ through you (Heb. 12:14). 

May 25, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, which was first posted on January 21 , 2016, is provided by Pastor Ryun Chang who serves as AMI Teaching Pastor.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Speaking in Tongues, Anyone?”

Acts 2:4-12

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 

I wonder how Jerry Rankin, then-President of the International Mission Board, felt as the vote was being counted.  In 2005, the board members of this Southern Baptist Convention organization voted on whether to accept anyone who speaks in tongues as its missionary candidates.   The board overwhelmingly decided against it.  Rankin, who had been speaking in tongues for 30 years, couldn’t have felt too comfortable.

I, too, have been speaking in tongues for a long time; in fact, I received that gift on the day I became a believer in 1981.  Actually, I had stopped praying in the gift of tongues for a time while attending Talbot Seminary that taught that tongues disappeared in the 1st century.  But I resumed, after studying the Scripture and finding that it doesn’t say anything to that effect. 

One vocal opponent against the gift of tongues is the renowned John MacArthur, a graduate of Talbot.  As a mega-church pastor and seminary president, MacArthur has many arguments against tongues, one of which is, whereas the tongues spoken in Acts were real languages, the tongues spoken today aren’t.

 MacArthur has stated, as agreed by many theologians, that “the only teaching in Acts that can be called normative (absolute) for the church are those that are doctrinally confirmed elsewhere in Scripture.”   In other words, the Epistles by Paul or John should have the final word.   If this is so, then shouldn’t MacArthur put more weight on the writings of Paul?  In 1 Corinthians 14:2 Paul writes: “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God.”   Whereas the onlookers in Jerusalem from the nations understood what was being spoken, no one understood the tongues spoken by the Corinthians because it wasn’t a real language; and that’s the tongues spoken by people like Rankin and me.

And I second Rankin who said that tongues as a private prayer language has been a tremendous help in his relationship with God.  You may or may not speak in tongues, but ultimately, what matters is whether we have a consistent prayer life to sustain our intimacy with God.  If not, start today.

Prayer: Lord, You are the God of redemption, and for that, I am infinitely grateful.  Like useless and rusty junk, we could’ve easily been discarded for our sins, but You saw fit to send your Son to take our place to redeem us.  Thank You that we can be close to You through prayer.  Help me seek to You always.   Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Exodus 22

Lunch Break Study

Read Acts 19:11-2: God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Acts 5:3-5: Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 

Acts 5:15:  As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.

Question to Consider

1. Solely based on these passages from Acts, what should be happening today?

2. Without necessarily saying that these things can never happen again, what justifies the view that these occurrences are not normative for the church today?

3. Ultimately, why is thinking in this manner (putting epistles ahead of Acts when theologizing)important?


1. The sick people should be healed by the shadows and handkerchiefs of some powerful, anointed people of God.  Everyone who lies to God should be dying soon thereafter.

2. These things shouldn’t be normative experiences for the church today because none is taught or advocated in the Epistles, which are instructions for the church (1 Thess. 4:8; 2 Thess. 3:14).

3. Paul says to Pastor Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16).  While not all doctrines are same in importance, some are more crucial to our salvation (i.e. salvation by faith, the deity and humanity of Christ, etc.).  We must be careful and thoughtful when theologizing, doctrines being its outcome. 

Evening Reflection

Close your eyes and think about any ongoing conflicts (small or large) with someone at work and at home.  Review the way you have been arguing.  Are you being principled or talking out of both sides of your mouth?  Perhaps an apology is due.  Perhaps you have been arguing for the sake of winning!  Pray.

May 24, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on July 20, 2016, is provided by Pastor Joshua Kim. Joshua, a graduate of Emory University, Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Talbot Theological Seminary (Th.M.) just planted a church in Seattle called “Seattle Upper Room”.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What’s My Role?”

John 1:15, 20-23

John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

I was meeting a college student at a Starbucks. He had struggled with his faith early on but recently started to deepen his relationship with the Lord. In the midst of prepping for his dental school admission test (DAT), he wanted to share something that God had been teaching him through his studies. He said, “I’m starting to understand what Paul meant that we are a body. A body functions rightly when all the parts of the body, all the cells play the role that they are designed for.” I nodded in agreement. “But do you know what happens when a cell does whatever it wants to or grows in a wrong way?” he asked. “Cancer.”

Although none of us would ever consider claiming to be the Christ, I wonder if our actions would beg to differ. It astounds me to see the kind of humility John displayed in today’s passage. All these people came to him, ready to be baptized and to follow him… ready to make him a big deal. And yet we see his humble response to them. But where does this humility come from? We can see it in his response: “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

We see someone who understood his place in the redemptive history of God. He understood that he was called to prepare the way of the coming Christ. He understood that God had placed him in this situation at this moment for that very purpose. And he obeyed. 

I sometimes wonder if in my ministry, I make myself to be Christ more than the one who prepares the way for Christ. It sounds so ridiculous that I would ever consider that I am more important than Christ, but perhaps my actions or decisions show something different. Are there ways in your life where you have become a more important character in the story of life than Christ? How do you understand your God-given role in His redemptive history? Are you walking in obedience to that masterful plot?

Prayer: Lord, You are the Author and Perfecter of my faith. I confess that I am no longer the center of my story. It is no longer about me because of what Jesus has done. Help me to understand the role I am to play in Your great story of redemption. To that, I humbly surrender. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Exodus 21

Lunch Break Study  

Read 1 Corinthians 12:14-20: For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

Questions to Consider

  1. What connection is Paul making in discussing how the body functions and how a church should function?
  2. In light of this message, what does it mean for each body part (the individual)?
  3. Whether you know what role or part you play in the church, how does today’s devotional passages change your perspective on your life? 


  1. Paul masterfully demonstrates how God has orchestrated every member of a church to work together, each part uniquely and specifically, to make the whole function, much like how one body has many parts. 
  2. For the individual, this means that she should value the unique purpose God has placed on her life, but at the same time, recognize that her unique value does not trump the value of other members who have different purposes. 
  3. Personal response. 

Evening Reflection

As you reflected on the idea that God has uniquely called you to play a part in His redemptive narrative, how would you say that you are doing? Are you able to see that your life is a part of a bigger story? In what ways have you taken on the role of Christ in your own life by making it all about yourself? Take some time to journal and, if need be, repent before God.

May 23, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional QT, first posted on July 13, 2016, is written by Tina Pham who serves as AMI missions coordinator.  Tina is a graduate of Biola University (BA) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“I Tell You This For Your Own Good”

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 

Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? 

One of the easiest words to resist, or even despise, is when our parents or a person in authority sets up rules and says, “I tell you this for your good” or “I tell you this because I care for you.” Naturally, in our sinful nature, we want to be autonomous, independent, and the judge of right and wrong. Similarly, our hearts, when ignorant of God says, “I know the best for myself.” Scripture helps us to see that God’s commands are not burdensome or joy-killers. They don’t rob us of freedom. They are actually for our good. God’s Word helps us to live in our new freedom in Christ and to walk into His blessings and promises. 

In this morning’s passage, God instructs Israel through Moses to devote themselves to His words and commands, so that they may victoriously go in to possess the land God had promised to their forefathers. God exhorts and instructs for their good. He desires them to inherit His promise in His way and by His power. Ever since coming out of Egypt, the Israelites had many episodes of straying from God and doubting Him, including the time they worshipped the golden calf. It was important for Israel to learn to keep the Lord’s commandments, so that they could enter and possess the land through listening to God’s voice, instruction, and ways.  The more they trust and keep God’s Word, the less they will fear crossing the Jordan and driving out nations that are stronger and greater than them. Though God’s commands required devotion and obedience, His commandments were for their good and for their future inheritance.

In light of this, let’s reflect about how God’s convictions and commands are for our good. What is God calling you to obey today, and how do you think your obedience will be for your good? 

Prayer: Dear God, help me to trust that Your commandments are not burdensome. Instead, they are for my good. Train my ears and tune my heart to follow Your ways, so that I can experience Your promises and blessings in my life. In Jesus’ name,  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Exodus 20

Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 5:24-27:Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

Questions to Consider

1. What is Jesus implying by using imagery of the house, rock, sand, wind, flood, and rain?

2. What is the Jesus’ main exhortation to us in this passage?

3. Why do you think Jesus calls his teachings/commands a rock? How has God’s word been a “rock” in your life recently?


1. By using the imagery of wind, flood, and rain, Jesus is implying that trials, hardships, and difficult times will come. The righteous, those who are God’s children by faith, are not exempt from facing trials. The house represents our life and personhood. The rock represents Jesus’ teaching, whereas sand represents man’s own ways.

2. He is exhorting us to hear and obey His words, because those who live life (or build his/her life) according to God’s ways are able to remain steady and strong even though trials and hardships are overwhelming and difficult.

3. Personal Response. 

Evening Reflection

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).  What do you live by?  What do you crave for?  

May 22, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, which was first posted on January 25 , 2016, is provided by Pastor Ryun Chang who serves as AMI Teaching Pastor.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Religious Formalism”

Acts 2:13-4

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose.  It’s only nine in the morning! 

1 Sam. 1:10-5

In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” 12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.”

The word “formalism” conjures up images of liturgical church (e.g., Lutheran, Episcopalian); but it can also be found in emotion-filled Pentecostal churches.   Once, as my wife and I were returning home from a Charismatic meeting where I spoke, she told me that someone had asked her whether she was a Christian.  During the prayer time when everyone prayed out really loud, the sight of my wife praying quietly was a dead giveaway to this person that she wasn’t saved: that’s formalism, which is a strict adherence to some behavior arbitrarily selected as most pleasing to God and then judging those who fall short.  

To those who saw the 120 praying out loud in tongues, they seemed drunk; Hanna seemed drunk to Eli because she wasn’t praying audibly.  In both incidents, the accused had to defend themselves: Peter said, “It’s only nine in the morning”; Hannah said, “I have not been drinking wine or beer.”   Were these good enough reasons to those who judged people based on some arbitrary criteria, supposedly more pleasing to God?  It appeared to be so for the Pentecost crowd and Eli, but for the hardcore formalists, such as the Pharisees, they wouldn’t back down: it was either their way or the highway.   After seeing Jesus heal a blind man, “some of the Pharisees,” who arbitrarily decided that that constituted work, said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath” (Jn. 9:16).  

What the formalists refused to understand was this: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).  Sometimes we pray out loud; sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes we raise our hands while worshiping; sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes we cry; sometimes we laugh!  But as long as we have the right heart, God doesn’t care.  

A renowned Bible teacher told a story of being offended by a man sitting in the front pew who kept falling asleep while he was preaching.  Later, the pastor learned that the man and his wife had driven from another city just to listen to him, but he suffered from a rare condition that made him suddenly fall asleep.  Ouch! Folks, avoid formalism!  


Father in heaven, I praise You and honor You today.  I thank You that I don’t need to shout to be heard, but at the same time, thank You for the freedom to shout and cry out, particularly when walls are caving in and I feel so desperate.  Thank You for always being there for me—always.  I love You, Lord.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Exodus 19

Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 37:7a: Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him . . .

Heb. 5:7 (ESV): In the days of his flesh, Jesus  offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

1 Cor. 13:12-3: For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Question to Consider

1. In what way is the prayer of Psalm 37 different from the prayer of Jesus mentioned in Hebrews 5:7?

2. In what way is the emotion felt by Hannah and that of Jesus similar?  What was ironic about how they prayed in response to how they felt?

3. Ultimately, what does formalism and judging people based on some arbitrary criteria tell about us?


1. The prayer of Psalm 37 is a quiet, meditative prayer; the prayer of Jesus, referred in Heb. 5:7, is just the opposite—very loud.

2. They both felt anguish in their hearts.  Who can forget Jesus telling his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matt. 26:38)?  Hannah said, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled.”  But they prayed quite differently: one cried out while the other hardly made any sound.  Either way is okay.  

3. It means two things: First, those who judge people based on formalism are acting like they see everything when, in truth, they see only parts; second, judging others out of an assumption that they have the clearest vision is really because they lack love. 

Evening Reflection

Writing out a prayer can be a helpful aid if you don’t know what to say to God once you close your eyes.   I used to carry a prayer list to remind myself to pray for certain people on specific days of the week.  Now, I just memorize them as I add more people to it.  How is your prayer life?   Do you have one?  Whether you prefer to pray quietly or to cry out, just pray, but do prepare yourself beforehand.  Perhaps reading a Psalm may help or making a list.  You need to pray.

May 21, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, first posted on May 15, 2016, is provided by Pastor David Kwon who leads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.  David, a graduate of Drexel University and Columbia International University (M.Div.), was recently ordained. Congratulations. 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend


Acts 25:23-27

So on the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Then, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish people petitioned me, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But I found that he had done nothing deserving death. And as he himself appealed to the emperor, I decided to go ahead and send him. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, after we have examined him, I may have something to write. 27 For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him.”

By nature I do not like to run, but when I do run to get some exercise, I often feel like quitting after a certain point; I feel like I’ve hit a wall and my mind does many tricks, convincing me to stop.  But in order to finish the goal, I need to often remind myself that the finish line is near, and all I have to do is to persevere a little further.  

In reading about Paul’s trial, I’ve been personally reminded of persevering in the gospel—even when it is hard.  We see that Paul never quit!  In today’s passage, Paul is now facing Agrippa and Bernice, who were the Jewish King and Queen, as well as Festus and other high-ranking officials.  Even with powerful officials accusing Paul of wrongdoing, he knew that God had called him and he was there on a mission.  No matter how the trial would turn out, he wanted to finish well.  We are reminded of what he said a few chapters back in Act 20:24: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Do you feel like quitting the race of faith?  If we are honest, we will all face those walls when it just seems too hard to persevere.  Maybe it is because we look at the world’s success or living our own way seems so much more appealing.  But don’t quit; He is worthy!  My hope and prayer is that we would finish the race well until we see Him face to face—and it will all be worth it!  

Prayer:  Lord, help us to stay faithful till the very end.  We know that the Christian race is hard and that is why we ask for Your strength and endurance as we pursue You and Your kingdom daily.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Exodus 18

May 20, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Christine Li, was first posted on April 23, 2016. Christine, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, serves as a deaconess at Remnant Church in Manhattan, New York.  

Spiritual Food for Thought for This Morning

“Repentance and Taking a Daily Shower”

Acts 19:17-19

When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is a collection of funny short stories I used to read as a child. The main character, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, spends all of her time with the children of the neighborhood and cleverly instills various good habits in them. One such situation is called “The Radish Cure,” where one of the girls refuses to take baths. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle instructs the parents to let their daughter stop taking baths as she wishes. The daughter begins to get dirt and grime caked on her, and one night her parents secretly plant radish seeds on her. The next morning, the girl is horrified to find little sprouts on her body and immediately begs her parents to let her take a bath.

Repentance, in many ways, is like the discipline of taking a daily shower, because it involves us going to God to purify and cleanse us. But just as children try to avoid baths by insisting that they are not so dirty, we might try to avoid this daily practice. Because we don’t always immediately feel the consequences of our sins, we fail to see how essential repentance is. If we keep on insisting that we don’t have to repent, it is possible that we will become so mired and trapped in our ways that only a very dangerous or scary situation will awaken our senses. 

Here at Ephesus, a terrifying encounter with evil spirits struck the fear of the Lord into the people’s hearts; what resulted was a massive outpouring of confession and repentance from sorcery. This was a great testimony, as it incited a large wave of repentance. But, we don’t have to wait for a traumatizing event to come clean before the Lord! He is at hand, so we can constantly approach Him to receive His grace. 

Let’s go to Him now and ask Him to gently wash us clean again. As we humbly acknowledge that we are constantly sinning against Him and need forgiveness, we might find that repentance is a habit that can become more and more natural to us. 

Prayer: Father, I am a sinner! I have so many disobedient thoughts and habits that go against Your holiness. Thank You for sending Your son, Jesus, so that I can be made righteous in Your sight and enjoy Your love forever. Remind me of Your grace all over again, and let me turn from my own ways to Your life-bringing habits. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Exodus 16-17