October 21, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on October 21, 2021.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The Families in Mexico of Illegal Immigrants in America” 

Exodus 22:21

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”

The Bible says, “Be willing to associate with people of low position” (Rom. 12:16), but this is a tall order to follow, especially when we lack empathy: Empathy is defined as an “identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings or thoughts of another person.” And I learned the meaning of that word afresh while living and serving in Mexico.

One social issue that continues to rile up many Americans is illegal immigration, the main reason being that illegal aliens take away jobs.  While I don’t hold any strong position on this issue, I do believe that keeping our borders secure is important.  Now, my visit to Nealtican, a small city in southern Mexico, gave me a chance to see and begin to empathize with the predicament of illegal immigrants.   

 While I was there to train missionary candidates, I stayed at the house of Juanita, a mother of three children, whose husband was working in the States as an illegal alien.  And I quickly learned that he left because there were no jobs.  I also got to see what life was like for the families of illegal immigrants: In short, the children desperately missed the father.  Once a week, the family would walk to the nearest public phone and would wait for a call from the States that may not come.  During dinner, they would talk about their conversations with their dad, or if he hadn’t called, how they missed him. Listening to this and eating the meals especially prepared for their Korean guest for a week, I thought to myself, “I may not agree with illegal immigration, but I must not mistreat illegal immigrants.”  People without proper documents may be illegal before the law, but they are people whom God loves. 

By the time I returned to Nealtican in 2007 to teach, Juanita and the children had long gone to the States, presumably without proper documents, to join her husband in New Jersey.  Now that I live in Philadelphia, if I ever run into her, I want to let her know how much I appreciated her hospitality and love that she showed me.   Maybe there is someone in your life for whom you need to do the same.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for choosing the way of the incarnation to save us, where Jesus became like us in every aspect. You did that not only to save us, but so that we can be assured that Jesus is able to empathize with us, and therefore, go to him.  Thank you!  

Bible Reading for Today: Micha 4


Lunch Break Study

Read Hebrews 2:17-8: Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 4:15-6: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Questions to Consider

1. In what sense did Christ empathize with us?

2. How does that help our confidence in Christ’s capacity to really help us?

3. Think about a person in your life to whom you need to show empathy.

Notes

1. By becoming a real human, Christ went through all the experiences encountered by every human being. Though never ceasing to be God at any moment, Jesus underwent hunger, fatigue (Jn. 4:6), disappointment (Matt. 26:40; Jn. 14:9), and even anguish (Matt. 26:38).  Consequently, Christ, in his humanity, has personal knowledge of what we go through.

2. Of course, Christ didn’t have be a human being to know what we go through since He is an all-knowing God. Ultimately, then, Christ underwent human experiences so that we can have more confidence in his capacity to really help us. 

3. What was the last painful experience you went through?  Look around to see who is going through the same thing.   You can empathize with that person better than others.  


Evening Reflection

Did you run into anyone who was going through a difficult moment today?  Perhaps, you are that person.  Before we seek empathy from man, let’s first go to Christ, for He truly understands us.  Pray, casting all you cares upon Him. 

October 20, Wednesday

UPDATEDToday’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by then (2013) staff of Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan, was first posted on September 28, 2013.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning 

“Worshiping the Great One”

Psalm 92:1-5

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, 3 to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. 4 For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. 5 How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!

This morning’s Psalm highlights the wonderful joy and blessing of worshipping the Lord. The very act of singing His praise, of worshipping Him, of reflecting on His wonders and goodness is our delight. This praise is verbal, musical, emotional, and reflective. In view of this Psalm, we are encouraged to go deeper and more expansive in our worshipful response to God.

As the psalmist reflects on all that God has done, his response is to worship God. Too many times we gloss over the works of God in us and among us. The psalmist purposefully considers the acts of God and gives Him the proper praise due to His name. 

This is a call for us to do likewise. God is calling us to remember who He is, what He’s done, and to give him the proper praise due to Him.  Even if you are tight on time right now, take a moment to render unto God a proper worship due Him.

Bible Reading for Today: Micah 3

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I worship and praise You because You are the greatest, for there is none in this entire universe who is more awesome than You—in power, grace, and love.  Thank You.  Amen. 


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 4:14-20: Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Background tidbit: The word partnership in verse 15 has been seen a number of times in the book of Philippians. As stated previously, it is the Greek word koinonia which is often translated fellowship.

Questions to Consider

1. How does Paul encourage the Philippians to view their offerings to Paul?

2 What should be behind our giving?

3. Are you plugged into your spiritual community well enough to know what trouble people are in? How can you grow in your involvement and understanding of your community so that others would share their trials with you?

Notes

1. As Paul is teaching the Philippians about giving, he encourages them to view their gift to support him as an offering to God, partnering with Him in the work of the gospel. The gospel enterprise is teamwork where one person is on the field, while others are home supporting him, but they are one team-building God’s kingdom!

2. Note that the physical, monetary gift alone is not what makes the difference, but a heart and attitude of sacrifice and devotion before God is what makes a world of difference! 

3. Personal response


Evening Reflection

Father, you will always be my Most High God, my sovereign God. I will be empowered from on high, all of the days of my future, to bring forth good tidings of your kingdom.  Pray for an area in your sphere of influence so that the Lord will work through you, and thank Him for what He is going to do.

How do you want me to declare your will tonight, God?

October 19, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on November 19, 2015, is provided by Pastor Jason Sato who, along with his wife Jessica and three young children, serves in Japan as an AMI missionary.  Jason, a graduate of UC San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), recently planted an English-speaking church in Tokyo. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Changes Through Institutional Involvement”

Nehemiah 12:44-47 (ESV)

On that day men were appointed over the storerooms, the contributions, the firstfruits, and the tithes, to gather into them the portions required by the Law for the priests and for the Levites according to the fields of the towns, for Judah rejoiced over the priests and the Levites who ministered. [45] And they performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did the singers and the gatekeepers, according to the command of David and his son Solomon. [46] For long ago in the days of David and Asaph there were directors of the singers, and there were songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. [47] And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah gave the daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers; and they set apart that which was for the Levites; and the Levites set apart that which was for the sons of Aaron.

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of leading several mission teams to places all over the world.  I’ve yet to have team members who were not blessed in some way, and more often than not, the brothers and sisters I served with had powerful encounters with God.  Yet, what I have noticed is that a remarkable experience does not always lead to actual life transformation.

In today’s passage, the people of God have just experienced something like a corporate revival.  God has met them powerfully, and their first order of business is to…assign people to the temple accounting department?

We don’t often associate life transformation with the creation of institutions or the development of disciplines.  Isn’t revival more about spontaneity and powerful experiences?  Doesn’t structure quench the Holy Spirit?  Perhaps, at times it can, but the people are in fact doing one of the most important things they can.  Israel is being spiritually renewed and the people’s greatest desire is that this renewal might continue and be passed on to future generations.

Therefore, faithful men are needed to gather the offerings and tithes that the people give and distribute them appropriately to the Levites.  If the Levites are not provided for, priests, singers, and gatekeepers may leave their posts to find other work to feed their families, and there would be no one to continue ministering to God and to His people.

What kinds of habits do you need to establish to continue worshiping God?  What kinds of disciplines are necessary for you to participate in passing on true worship to future generations?

Prayer: Oh Lord, I desire more than a fleeting spiritual experience!  May I dwell in Your house and daily hear Your voice.  Lord, open my eyes to see the simple, daily ways I can be faithful and put You first. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Micah 2


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 (ESV): Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. [2] On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 

Question to Consider

1. The apostle Paul instructs the Corinthian church to set aside an offering regularly on behalf of the Jerusalem church that is enduring a famine.  What does regular giving cultivate?

2. Why might it be best to do the collections prior to Paul’s arrival?

3. Often we are more aware of the money we give than what we are invited to contribute toward.  In this passage, what was the collection for?

Notes

1. Regular giving cultivates a lifestyle of generosity, self-denial, and sacrificial love. 

2. Such an arrangement may avoid logistical problems, but it also prevents giving out of guilt, or in this case, giving in order to impress the apostle Paul.  God desires deliberate, thoughtful giving.

3. The collection was for the saints in Jerusalem who were in great need.  This collection would also free the leaders and apostles in the Jerusalem church from needing to attend to the physical needs of their people so they could continue to minister the Word of God and spread the gospel throughout the earth.


Evening Reflection

Reflect on your day.  Did a lack of planning or setting aside the appropriate resources (time, money, etc.) hinder your ability to worship God today?  What kind of planning might help you in the future?

October 18, Monday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on August 5, 2015, is written by Tina Hsu who serves as AMI missions coordinator.  Tina, a graduate of Biola University (BA) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.) and is married to Anthony.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The Hardness of Heart”

2 Kings 5:1:1-5, 7-8, 14-15(NASB)

Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the LORD had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. 2 Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel  and she waited on Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel.” 5 Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel”… 7 “When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.” 8 It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel”…14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean. 15 When he returned to the man of God with all his company, and came and stood before him, he said, “Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel…” 

Israel and Aram had been at war against one another. Because of Israel’s covenant unfaithfulness, God gave them into the hands of Aram and caused Naaman, the captain of Aram’s army, to be successful. In the eyes of their enemies, Israel was weak and there was little evidence that God was among them. The king of Israel’s response to the king of Aram’s letter reflects Israel’s unbelief – “Do you think I am God? I am not able to heal leprosy!” He didn’t consider inquiring of Elisha, the prophet of Israel, but instead he worried that Aram was stirring up a fight against him. Though the king displayed a lack of faith in God, the author of 2 Kings highlights the faith of a young Israelite servant girl, who remembered Elisha and believed in God’s power in him. Furthermore, Naaman himself showed faith in the God. He asked his king to prepare a letter and a gift so he could go and meet Elisha. Though he was reluctant and prideful at first to wash seven times in the Jordan, he eventually listened to Elisha’s word, experienced complete healing, and declared, “I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel…” 

Jesus spoke about the healing of Naaman to address Israel’s unbelief, “And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:27). During the time of Elisha, Israel was blind to the healing and power available in the God of Israel. Similarly, Israel was blind and the people’s hearts were hardened towards the salvation available in Jesus.  

From this passage, we learn that hardness of heart blinds us from encountering Jesus. Unbelief prevents us from seeking the joy, freedom, renewal, healing, and truth that is available in Jesus. This passage also teaches us not to be so easily satisfied with our limited knowledge of God, but to be hungry to ask the Lord for eyes to see Him, ears to hear Him, and a heart to know and love Him.  

Prayer: Dear God, I acknowledge that my faith wavers and I need the power of your Holy Spirit to heal my spiritual blindness. Help my unbelief and give me eyes to see and believe in You moment by moment! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.   

Bible Reading for Today: Micah 1


Lunch Break Study 

Read John 8:12, 31-32 (NASB): Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life”…So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed in Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”   

Questions to Consider 

  1. When Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world,” who is Jesus speaking to? 
  2. How does Jesus’ message impact the Pharisees and the Jews in general who are Abraham’s descendants? 
  3. A mark of a true disciple is one who continues in Jesus’ word to know the truth. How are you doing as a disciple of Jesus? 

Notes 

  1. Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees who are accusing Jesus of testifying about Himself and His relationship to the Father. The Pharisees claim that they know God the Father because they are Abraham’s descendants.  
  2. As the “light of the world,” Jesus makes God the Father known to the world and leads followers into the truth. Jesus teaches the Jews that if they believe in the Father, they should also believe in Him and follow Him because He is from the Father. However, their hearts are hard towards Jesus because they trust in their lineage with Abraham for their relationship to God.  
  3. Personal response 

Evening Reflection 

In what area or situation in your life do you need God’s light and truth? Ask the Lord to lead you by His light and truth.  

Psalm 36:9: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”  

October 17, Sunday

UPDATEDToday’s Spiritual Food for Thought was first posted on August 14, 2013.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Did You Really Try It?”

Luke 5:1-11

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

I will share two thoughts from this passage.

First, be reminded that we have enough knowledge and experience in life to distinguish between what works and what does not work.  Someone said that the problem with Christianity is not that it does not work; but rather, since many simply assume it to be too difficult and impossible, it is left untried.  Jesus told Peter to do something that was completely out of line with his knowledge and experience.  He obeyed and it “worked,” that is, he experienced God.

Second, what would have happened if Peter just rejoiced over catching a large number of fish?  He would probably have thanked God for replacing a bad day with success.  At the end of the day, we all need to pause long enough to raise the following question: What do I consider as life’s success?  Is it fish (career) or encounter with the living God (holiness)? 

Prayer: Lord, help me to arise from the superficiality and the shallowness of my faith, and trust You for something difficult and impossible in the eyes of humans.  May I learn to obey You in all things, even against my knowledge based on human wisdom and limited experiences in life. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Jude 1

October 16, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 19, 2014.  

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Learning from the Tiny Creatures”

1 Tim. 6:18

Command [who are rich in this world] . . . to be generous and willing to share.”

Upon receiving an e-mail from my son’s college about an alumnus who donated $50 million to this liberal arts school, I recalled his name from an article I read many years ago regarding a man who returned to his old grade school to promise scholarships. 

Eugene Lang grew up in a ramshackle in Harlem, N.Y.C. where his immigrant parents scraped for a living.  He himself worked as a dishwasher while attending high school.  Through hard work, he made his millions in the high-tech industry, after which, he resisted the trappings of wealth— walking to work and flying coach to overseas meetings.    In 1980, Mr. Lang told 61 sixth graders graduating from his old Harlem school that he would give them each $2,000 toward their college tuition, with more to come if they kept working toward college.  By 1985, with 18 months to go till high school graduation, 52 of the students still had not quit school.  

Proverbs 6:6 exhorts the sluggard to learn from the industrious ant.  So, whether Mr. Lang is a Christian, we can learn a lot from this man.  While his generosity quickly jumps out of the page, another attribute is just as impressive:  not forgetting his roots.   He kept returning to places that apparently impacted him the most, to give back: the grade school that he attended as a child, the college that he began at the age of 15, and also Columbia Business School, where he received an M.S., to which he also made a large donation.

There are many things in our past that we ought to forget.  When Paul writes, “Forgetting what is behind” (Phil. 3:13a), it certainly includes our sinful ways and excuses that justify them.  But one thing we should never forget: “Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced” (1 Chr. 16:12).  The moment we forget God’s active and steadfast presence in our lives that resulted in all that we possess—inward goods, such as faith and character, as well as material goods—we become prideful and indifferent to the plight of others.   We will not be generous.  

For those who have forgotten what they used to be like, “remember the height from which you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first” (Rev. 2:5).   So, what do you remember doing to express your love toward Christ in the early days of walking with him?  Do that. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to learn from the industrious ants so that I will work as diligently as those tiny creatures in order that I will have enough to share with others in Your Son’s name.   Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Haggai 1-2

October 15, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Jabez Yeo who formerly served at Remnant Church in Manhattan, was first posted on May 22, 2015.  Jabez is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BS) and Columbia International University (M.A., Muslim Studies).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Reasons for being Joyful”

Psalm 16:11-11

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”  3 I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” 4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. 5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Changes in our circumstances can often steal our joy.  One personal example: I moved to New York City last summer because of work, not necessarily by choice. I was comfortable in my previous city and the sudden change threw off the rhythm I was accustomed to. Thus, I internally complained about whatever I disliked; fixing my eyes on perceived shortcomings instead of on Christ. Needless to say, joy was hard to come by as a result.

In Psalm 16, King David outlines why we can have joy no matter the circumstance. One particular reason is God’s presence. When we turn our ears to God and willingly listen to Him, He will counsel and instruct us, even during unexpected times (v.7). Similarly, when we turn our eyes to God, the author and perfector of our faith (Heb. 12:2), we know that we will not be shaken (v.8).  Are we turning our ears and eyes to God today? Even if our circumstances are less than ideal?

Another reason why joy can be our reality is not only God’s presence, but His unwillingness to abandon us. Despite living before Jesus’ time, David rejoiced (v.9) because he knew that God would not abandon him to the realm of the dead (v.10). How much more joyful should we be, knowing fully the privileges of being God’s children. How much more should we rejoice, knowing that nothing will ever separate us from God’s love in Christ! (Rom 8:39).

Lastly, we can have joy because God has made known to us the path of life (v.11). He has not left us alone to fend for ourselves but has provided His Word as the lamp to our feet and the light to our path (Psalm 119:105). And ultimately, we know that Christ will bring about eternal pleasures (v.11), making all things new through His return (Rev 21:5). 

Truly, the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Rom. 8:18). Let’s come before the Lord and ask that His joy may be our strength today (Neh. 8:10).

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You know the circumstance that I am in. Help me to find joy in You in this present situation. Give me strength to turn my ears and eyes to You—even when I don’t want to. Help me remember that You will not abandon me, and that You have made known to me the path of life. May Your joy be my strength from this day forward. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 13


Lunch Break Study

Read 2 Cor. 10:12: We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise; Gal. 5:26: Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other; 1 Thess. 5:18: Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is one thing that we do that can easily diminish our joy and happiness?  Why is this not a wise thing to do?
  2. What is one practical way to regain joy, especially when we are prone to complaining about our life?
  3. What are you going through right now that is robbing you of your joy in the Lord?  Perhaps recognizing the culprit is the first step toward its recovery. 

Notes

  1. Even in Paul’s days, people compared themselves with others to feel better about themselves.  Today, we do the same by comparing our income, educational status, and/or the value of our house with those around us.   This isn’t very wise because there is bound to be someone who has more than you, which then leads to discontentment and lack of joy.
  2. Instead of looking at all the things that we don’t have and then be discontent, we should focus on the things we do have from God, while remembering that the bad things that have happened here and there could easily have been infinitely more worse, thanks to God’s grace.   Such a thankful heart is pivotal to attaining and maintaining a joyous heart. 
  3. Personal response. 

Evening Reflection

On a typical day, we go through many emotions, some happy, some sad and frustrating.  How was your day today?  Or rather, how do you respond to your day?  What do you need to ask the Lord in order to have a more joyous disposition?  Ask Him for the right motivation and strength to do better tomorrow.

October 14, Thursday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on August 18, 2014.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“More Important Than the Universe and Angels”

Psalm 8:3-5

When I consider your heavens the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

The universe is much bigger than what David had imagined: in fact, “it is expanding the same in all directions” (Craig).  But one thing has remained constant despite the presence of more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe: The earth is still the only place where God created life, men who are most dear to Him.  No one has proven it otherwise. (Sorry, UFO fans.) While humans may have been ranked lower than the angels in the Old Testament, for those who have partaken of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, these same angels now “serve [us] who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14).  Keep that in mind the next time life brings disappointments, for, in light of such a privileged status we enjoy in Christ, how can we not bounce back!  So be encouraged! 

As a new day dawns, see your problems considering how our God thinks of you: more important than the universe itself and ranked higher than the mighty angels!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, it is so easy to get down on myself because of my many inadequacies and mistakes. Yet, it is amazing that You would consider me that important because I am created in Your likeness, and because I am a child of God in Christ.  Thank you! Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 12


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 1:22-23: Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Questions to Consider

  1. Who said this and to whom was it said? (Rom. 1:1. 7)
  2. Why was this said? (Rom. 1:18-21; 1 Cor. 8:5)
  3. Why do men prefer to worship created things over the Creator? (Rom. 1:25; Acts 19:24-7)

Notes

  1. The apostle Paul said this about the Romans during the time when the decadent Nero was the emperor.
  2. Paul, being aware of the many gods worshiped in the Empire (e.g., Mithras, Cybele, Isis, Bacchus, etc.), wanted to clarify that they were doing so despite clear evidence for the existence of the Creator God.
  3. The Marxist analysis of religion is not entirely wrong: men can manipulate religion for their own benefit and pleasure. In Ephesus, many promoted the worship of Artemis (which promoted sensuality) because the sale of her image was very profitable.  By keeping the masses uninformed and ignorant of the truth, this brutal cycle could last a long time.  While the Christian church, at times, behaved shamefully, there was always a remnant who worshiped the Creator, upheld His moral and ethical laws, and loved their neighbors.

Evening Reflection

This afternoon we talked about idolatry.  In what ways do we commit the sin of idolatry, worshiping “things” instead of our Creator?  What does it mean that we worship “things” (last part of Col. 3:5)?  It means that, because we are greedy for more things (e.g., wealth, fame, power), we dedicate the best of our thinking, energy, and time to get more wealth and power instead of serving God’s interest.  In view of that, who are you truly worshiping?  Is it time for a change?

October 13, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on November 18, 2015, is provided by Pastor Jason Sato who, along with his wife Jessica and three young children, serves in Japan as an AMI missionary.  Jason, a graduate of UC San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), recently planted an English-speaking church in Tokyo. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“A Reason to Sing”

Nehemiah 12:27-31 (ESV)

And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. [28] And the sons of the singers gathered together from the district surrounding Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites; [29] also from Beth-gilgal and from the region of Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built for themselves villages around Jerusalem. [30] And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and they purified the people and the gates and the wall. [31] Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks.

When was the last time in your life that singing was the most appropriate response to an event?  At a wedding?  After the birth of a child?  In the car on the way to work?  Now life may not be one long Disney musical (thankfully? haha), but the Lord can and does give us a reason to sing.  In our passage, God fills the hearts of His people with praise.  Despite all the obstacles, the wall is rebuilt in a mere 52 days.  The threats of their enemies are harmless.  The promises of God are being fulfilled right before their eyes, and the only appropriate response is to have a worship celebration.

There is great gladness, thanksgiving, and singing; musical worship includes cymbals, harps and lyres (12:27).  Leaders of Israel and two choirs walk on top of the wall that was built (12:31)—the very wall that Tobiah said a fox could break down (4:3) supports dozens of people. 

One choir sings from the north side of the city while the other sings from the south (12:31, 38).  Worship can be heard throughout the city as the two congregations meet at the temple (12:40).  Great sacrifices are made and all the people—men, women and children—rejoice with such a loud voice that worship can be heard from far off (12:43).  

As the people consider the faithfulness of God, they are blessed with both thankful hearts and great hope.  On the one hand, God is present and active today in blessing His people; and on the other, He is not done and the best is certainly yet to come.  

Imagine the people walking on the wall, their city still in need of restoration, singing of the day that the nations would gather at Zion to bring their offerings to the Lord.  May the acts of God in the past and the promises of God for the future give to us great joy and courage in the present!

Prayer: Father, put praises on the lips of your people!  May thanksgiving rise up in my heart for You have given me countless evidences of Your loving-kindness.  In times of trial, fix my eyes on Your coming kingdom that I might sing of my certain hope to come. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 10


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 150 (ESV): Let Everything Praise the Lord. [1] Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens![2] Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness![3] Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp![4] Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe![5] Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals![6] Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

Question to Consider

  1. Why should we praise the Lord?
  2. Where should the Lord be praised?
  3. Who should praise the Lord?

Notes

  1. For who He is (“his excellent greatness”), and what He has done (“his mighty deeds”). 
  2. God should be praised in the sanctuary (the church as well as the heart of every believer), but He should also be praised in the heavens (in every corner of creation).
  3. Everyone!  Everything that has the breath of life ought to praise its Maker, and one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord.

Evening Reflection

Take a moment to reflect.  What things in your life make it difficult to sing the praises of God?  How can the great works that God has done in the past help encourage you?  How can the great promises He has for the future give you hope?

October 12, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on October 7, 2014.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Making Good on God’s Investment”

Luke 12:48b (NIV)

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

The place where the AMI Institute 2012 was held, Wilshire Boulevard close to Korean town in Los Angeles, was familiar to me since I lived there in the 1980s.  Jogging around the streets early in the morning, I saw another familiar sight: Hispanic men waiting for someone to give them work.  Some 30 years ago, I could have justified ignoring them since I couldn’t communicate in Spanish; but now, after living in Mexico for a decade, language isn’t a problem.  So, I should get involved but do I want to, on the street, no less? 

In the parable of the talents, the master, before leaving on a journey, apportions different amount of money to his servants.  Upon returning, he is pleased that those who had received five and two talents, respectively, put them to work and multiplied them by two-fold.  But the servant with one talent hid it in the ground, choosing to do nothing.  Not too pleased, the master orders that the lone talent be taken away and given to the one who now has ten talents, saying, “Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” (Matt. 25:29).

Evidently, God doesn’t want his investment wasted, although many do just that.  The master minces no words when calling the irresponsible servant “wicked” and “lazy.”  Lazy, yes, but wicked?   You may say that too if you are called “a hard man,” as did this servant, whose gains came from exploiting people (v.24).   The passive-aggressiveness of this servant, miffed at having received less than others, likely was his way of getting back at his boss; meanwhile, he refused to see that a talent was still worth more than a thousand dollars. 

So the next two mornings, armed with fresh coffee and donuts, I went to minister to the men with God’s word and prayer.  It was a good return for God’s investment in enabling me to speak Spanish and to have a few bucks in my wallet.  Today, look around to see whether God’s investment in you can bring some hope and smile to those caught in a difficult moment.  

Prayer: Glorious Father, how awesome it is to encounter You every day, and to have access to You at any moment and any place.  Thank You for everything that you have given me, but forgive me for often assuming that they are all for me.  Remind me every day that I MUST use your investment in my life to expand your kingdom.   Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 9


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Timothy 6:17-9 (NIV): Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Eccle. 5:19:Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God

Questions to Consider

  1. What are the two things that God wants us to do with the riches that have been given to us?
  2. What should motivate us to share what God has given us?
  3. What are some talents that you feel God has given you?  Honestly appraise how you are using them.

Notes

  1. First, it is for us to enjoy, but we shouldn’t take this for granted:  God must give us the ability to enjoy in order to really take pleasure in our riches. Second, it is using them to do good works and share with those in need.  I think the ability to enjoy our wealth is tied to whether it is making a difference in the lives of others.
  2. The ultimate motivation is the hope of heaven; and our reward is based on how we have lived on earth, which includes having used our wealth to do good works.  
  3. The basic things that everyone has are time and money.  Also, everyone is slightly better than others in something: that can be considered talent.   It can be used to help those who aren’t as good as you are in that area. 

Evening Reflection

When you see someone who has so much more than you, how do you feel?  Don’t fixate on how little you have; instead, focus on what you do have and use it to do positive things.  Ask God for strength.