August 21, Wednesday

Today’s devotional is a reprint of Kate Moon’s blog originally posted on May 7, 2014.  She continues to serve the Lord faithfully in E. Asia.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“You Would Be Like the Cretans If You Lived There”

Titus 1:12-14

“One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: ‘Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.’ 13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth.” 

The island of Crete.  After looking at some photos, all I can say is that if I lived there, I could see myself becoming, if not a liar or evil brute, perhaps at least a lazy glutton.  The photos remind me of a tropical island I once lived on for a year. It was said that throughout history, foreigners who had tried to colonize this island had had the hardest time getting the people to work, reason being that the people had never needed to work to survive.  The soil on the land was so fertile that it didn’t need to be worked. Fruit trees grew on it, and when the fruit ripened and fell to the ground, the seeds would get embedded in the soil, rain would fall, and a new tree would sprout in that place.

Interestingly enough, though, this island also had one of the highest suicide rates in the world.  The weather on the island was also beautiful, but each day was the same as the day before, which would be the same as the day after.  It sounds like paradise, but it was almost as if they were literally dying of boredom. In having nothing to work for, the people had no purpose in living.

Liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.  “So stay as far away from them as possible,” or, “So don’t expect too much from them.”  These are some things Paul could have said. Yet when Paul was able to see what the Cretans were like, agreeing with their prophet, saying, “Yes, this is true,” instead of using his discernment to judge, criticize or put them down, he uses it to advise Titus as to the best way to help them.  Paul knows that because of their natures, they will need to be rebuked sharply, but he has hope for and believes that they can change. He desires for them to be firmly grounded in their faith. Perhaps he was also able to see something more to their story that he doesn’t mention here, seeing them through God’s eyes, with a heart of compassion.

Prayer: Lord, how great is your love.  You see the people of this world, with all their flaws, and you respond in love.  If I see the weaknesses of others today, would you help me not to judge but rather have your heart of compassion?  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 11


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-31, 13:2,8: “[12:7] Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit . . . 10 . . . to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits . . . 31 . . . And yet I will show you the most excellent way . . . [13:2] If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing . . . 8 Love never fails.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What do the following spiritual gifts have in common: message of wisdom / knowledge, prophecy, discernment (vv. 7-8, 10)?
  2. In what manner were the people to exercise their gifts (v. 31, v. 13:2, 8)? Why do you think this would have been particularly important for people who exercised the gifts mentioned above?  
  3. What should we be careful about when God reveals things to us?

Notes

  1. They all have to do with revelation; something that was hidden that is revealed to someone supernaturally by God.
  2. In love.  When hidden things are revealed, sometimes those things that were hidden were hidden for a reason – whether because the topic is sensitive, embarrassing or could be misunderstood.  Because of this, love is required to handle these kinds of revelations in the way God intended.
  3. Having insight into situations or the characters of people, including weaknesses, is a gift.  Knowing what to do with one’s insights requires incredible wisdom and love. The good news is, the wisdom and love of God himself are available to all who ask him (James 1:5).  So let us ask and receive.

Evening Reflection

Did God reveal anything today to me about others and the situations they may be in?  Do I need to intercede in prayer? Any action I need to take? Let’s ask the Lord for wisdom and love to handle such revelations well.

August 20, Tuesday

This AMI Devotional QT, prepared by the staff at Remnant Church Westside (NYC), was originally posted on September 15, 2013. 

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“Clinging to the Lord”

Psalm 88:8-18

You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape; 9 my eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call upon you, O Lord; I spread out my hands to you. 10 Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah 11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon? 12 Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? 13 But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. 14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? 15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. 16 Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me. 17 They surround me like a flood all day long;    they close in on me together.18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.

Out of all the Psalms written in the Bible, this particular psalm seems to end on a low note. The psalmist seems to point his finger toward God and declares that God is the source of all his troubles and iniquities: his friends have deserted him; he feels no escape from his circumstances; he feels cast away from God, and helpless. Yet, with the overwhelming frustration and hopelessness, we find that he consistently and daily cries out to God. The psalmist pours out all that is within him, hopeful as well as bitter emotions unto the Lord and reminds God that all His works are seen in the light of His people. 

As Job once spoke in 2:10, “Shall we receive good from God and not trouble?” we see that the psalmist is wrestling with what seems as though God Himself is working troubles and difficulties in his life. Instead of turning away from the Lord, giving into despair, or turning to other for answers, the psalmist clings to what he knows of God. He clings in hope, as seen in his prayers and cries to the Lord. He declares that God works wonders and establishes praises among the living, and they experience His steadfast love and faithfulness. Even when all his situations tell him otherwise, the psalmist clings to the truth of who God is and what He does.                                                                                        

Do you find yourself easily turning away from God and clinging to other “saviors” in the midst of difficulties?  Remember who God is and what He has done. Cling to the Lord during those times; learn to wrestle in prayer (Col. 4:12).

Prayer: Lord, remind me to cling to You every step of the way. Help me to cling tightly specially when storms of my life turn into a hurricane and wind waves become tsunami waves.  May You continue to be the anchor for my “soul, firm and secure” (Heb. 6:19). Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 10


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 2:14-18: Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Background tidbit: The main offering in both Roman and Jewish sacrifices was the killing of an animal. The drink offering would be a cup of wine poured over the sacrifice (c.f., Numbers 28:6-7).

Questions to ponder

  1. What tarnishes our light before the world? Are there things that you are currently “grumbling” about? What are some of the disputes that you are involved in? Is repentance in order?
  2. What does the expression “the day of Christ” (vs. 16) mean?
  3. How is your joy today? Are you feeling “poured out”? That’s a natural feeling for those who strive to the serve the Lord. Ask God for strength and for the filling of the Holy Spirit, that your worship of Him may be filled with joyful adoration!

Note

  1. It is interesting that the apostle Paul focuses on complaints and disunity as a means of tarnishing our light. It gives us a glimpse into God’s perspective regarding “drama” in our relationships and in our church.
  2. “The day of Christ”—The eternal state is prominently on the apostle Paul’s mind and serves as a matter-of-fact motivation for the Christian life. He was so heavenly-minded that nothing on earth could shake him.
  3. Verses 17-18 have a lot to say to the “sour-faced servants”—people who serve with a scowl on their faces.  Surely, Paul’s joy wasn’t rooted in his current circumstances, for he was in prison at this time, but it was a God-given inner attitude unmoved by his circumstances.

Evening Reflection

2 Corinthians 7: 6-7: “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more.”

Prayer: “Lord, you will always be my Comforter.  I trust that no matter what condition I’m in, whether I’m troubled, confused, fearful, or just tired, you will come to me as my Comforter. Your comfort may come through another person, and I will receive those you send to minister to me.”  

Tonight, ask God to show you how you can comfort others with your thoughts and actions and take the focus off yourself.

August 19, Monday

Today’s blog, written by Pastor David Kwon of Journey Community Church in Raleigh, was originally posted on November 1, 2013.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“We Stand in Awe of You”

Psalm 93

The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. 2 Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. 3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. 4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! 5 Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

Have you ever experienced a time when you were in awe of something?  Maybe it was seeing the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls for the first time.  These moments cannot often be put into words because of how glorious and breathtaking they are.  

Psalm 93 was written to show the greatness and majesty of our God.  It is the Psalm of Omnipotent Sovereignty declaring that our God reigns supreme.  The writer of this Psalm continues to exalt the works of the Lord by mentioning that he has established the earth (v.1) and all of creation declare his reign.  He identifies and declares that Yahweh is mightier than the floods and the waves of the sea (v. 3-4).  His works reveal the nature of the Great King: his glory and strength. 

When was the last time you stood in awe of the Lord?  As we take a step back from our busy lives and remember that our God reigns over the universe, it should give us a humbling perspective about our own lives.  It should help us not to worry or be anxious, realizing that we are in “good hands”; subsequently, it should result in worship and praise to our glorious King.  

Take some time this morning to stand in awe of our King who reigns over all and ascribe worship unto Him.

Prayer: Almighty God, we stand in awe of You, for we are enthralled by Your unfathomable goodness expressed through Your unlimited patience over our continuous rebellions and transgressions.  May we finally “get it”—repent and choose to walk in Your grace. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 9


Lunch Study Break

Read Matthew 6:25-33: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Questions to Consider

  1. What do we learn about God’s sovereignty in this passage?
  2. Why does Jesus point to creation when dealing with the issue of anxiety?
  3. What are some areas in your life where you need greater faith?  What are some worries you can lay down at his feet as you worship our glorious King?  Take some time to lift up some of your anxieties and ask the Lord for greater faith and right perspective in your life.  

Note

  1. One of the main themes of this passage is that Jesus is the Lord over creation.  He is the one who sovereignly controls all things.
  2. Notice that in verse 30, Jesus points out that the reason for our fears and anxieties is because we live not by faith, but by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).  It is a reminder that we should not worry because He reigns over all.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

As we close with Joshua 4 this evening, we see that Joshua commanded Israel to take stones and use them as a memorial to remember what the Lord had done for them as they miraculously passed through the Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant.  Spend some time reflecting and meditating on the greatness and goodness of our Lord. Remember that he is sovereign and nothing is out of his control.

August 18, Sunday

Today’s blog, written by Pastor Young Kim of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia, was originally posted on June 27, 2013.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Two More Wise Thoughts from Proverbs”

Proverbs 27:2 (NIV 84)

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.”

One question that is on everyone’s mind: How should we live?  Ultimately, we need to live a life that will bless Jesus and bless others.  If you live this way, many will bless you with their lips. But, of course, the greatest blessing will be when the lips of our Father in Heaven declare that we were good and faithful servants. 

Proverbs 27:17 

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

This proverb implies that we are to be our brothers’ keepers (Gn. 4:9).  It speaks of our responsibility toward one another to make that person better (i.e., to conform to the likeness of Christ).  So, how are you doing with this responsibility and accountability?  

Now, don’t it alone, for it is much better to sharpen one another as a team than as a lone “iron”.  Another Proverb says that “plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (15:22).  I think the same principle applies to sharpening each other in the Lord: Contributions made by several people, who may see different things about us, may be more helpful than just listening to one person. 

So, how is your friendships?  Have you let friendships slip by?  List the people you hold yourself accountable to and pray for them. If you have not talked with them in a while, make an appointment to meet and catch up.  

Prayer: Jesus, may we live our lives in a way that pleases You.  We want to hear “Well done!” from You and You alone. 

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 8

August 17, Saturday

Today’s blog, written by Pastor Young Kim of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia, was originally posted on June 26, 2013.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Two Wise Thoughts from Proverbs”

Proverbs 26:13, 14 (NIV 84)

“The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!’ As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.”

Proverbs regularly visits this theme of being a sluggard.  Basically, you don’t want to live like this—being lazy and making excuses as to why you didn’t what you were supposed to do. You don’t want to be a sluggard who turns on his bed like a door turns on its hinges.  

Wake up and ask Jesus for His strength to move through the obstacles in order to avoid living like a sluggard.  Remember that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power . . . and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7). Therefore, ask Jesus to make you realize your true identity as one who is more than a conqueror through “God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

Proverbs 26:18-19 

“Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking!’”

There is too much sarcasm, I believe, in the American culture. How do you use humor? Do you use it to say hurtful things?  Things that you say can be funny, but it can also be unwise and even hurtful. Examine the type of humor you like. Ask yourself, “Is God pleased in how I joke around?”

Prayer: Wake me up Jesus. I don’t want to live a life of constantly making excuses. Keep me diligent in seeking you. Teach me to be a hard-working person and stop being lazy; give me strength to press on!!!

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 6-7

August 16, Friday

Today’s devotional, provided by the staff of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, led by Pastor Peter Yoon, was originally posted on July 2, 2013.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“How to Pray for our Sons”

Psalm 72:5, 8, 17

May he endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations. 8 May he rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth . . . 17 May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. Then all nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed.

When fathers pray for their sons, their typical petitions do not go beyond praying for their earthly well-being (e.g., “Lord, help my son to get into this great university”).  While nothing is wrong with such prayers in and of themselves, something is missing in such prayers. What’s missing is asking God to help their sons to get right with God (e.g., “Lord, help my son to change so that he may love you more and desire to serve You”).  

With respect to King David, as he continues to pray for his son Solomon, he begins to look beyond his son’s reign as an earthly king to the reign of the King to come through his son’s lineage.  Unlike human kings, this coming King is eternal, enduring as long as the sun and the moon (which is a gross understatement). To this King, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day (Ps. 90:4).  His reign reaches every corner of the earth, from sea to sea, to the very ends of the earth. There is not one speck of existence which He does not reign over. This King will bless far more than Israel, but all nations.  He will receive praises from all peoples for it is too light a thing that He should receive worship from Israel alone.  

So often we are focused solely on the concerns of today in our small neighborhoods that affect only those in our immediate circles and suddenly even God appears small and inconsequential to us.  Meditate on the greatness of God and ask Him to cultivate awe in your heart today. And pray that your children, despite their early successes, will not be satisfied until they serve the Lord wholeheartedly.  

Prayer: Lord Jesus, my words cannot express your greatness.  My mind cannot comprehend your glory. Forgive me that I am so focused on myself and my life that I lose my sense of wonder before you.  There is none like you, Lord. You alone are worthy and I long for the day when you receive all the glory you deserve from me and from all the nations!

Bible Reading for Today:  Acts 5


Lunch Break Study

Read James 1:5-8 (NIV): If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Questions to Consider 

  1. What should you do when facing trials? 
  2. What character of God is revealed when He answers your prayers?
  3. Ask God for heavenly wisdom when facing trials and difficulties; then, firmly expect that your best wisdom will come only from Him. 

Note

  1. If you find yourself lacking wisdom in your current trials, you should ask God for wisdom.  But we must not confuse wisdom with knowledge. Knowledge is information; wisdom is application. Knowledge is comprehension of facts; wisdom is handling life. Knowledge is theoretical; wisdom is practical.
  2. God is generous as a giver. Also, God does not blame us by finding fault in us. One of the great things about God is that he knows what we are made of; he knows we are mere dust and how very weak we are. He knows how difficult life is for us and understands why we struggle so. Thus, he does not find fault with us for being who we are.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

In what ways did God reveal His greatness to you today, particularly through difficult moments? Can you off this prayer? Heavenly Father, I ask that you generously give me wisdom to face my trials and difficulties. And help me to fully trust that You are working through this trial to accomplish your good purpose in my life. Amen.

August 15, Thursday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Mark Chun (Radiance Christian Church), was originally posted on March 15, 2013.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“The Fear of the Lord”

Psalm 25:12-14

Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.  His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. 14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. 

Many Christians make the assumption that fearing God simply means respecting Him.  However, as you read some of the accounts of those who feared God in the Bible, it appears as if there was more to their reactions than simple reverence.  Sometimes there was sheer dread, others tried to flee, still others were surprised and shocked by the weight of his glory.   

In the mind of the modern believer, this doesn’t seem like the appropriate starting point for a healthy relationship with God, but both the Old and New Testament are consistent in their assertion that fear is both the beginning of wisdom and the right foundation for our relationship with God.  Proverbs 3:7b reminds us not to “be not wise in your own eyes [but] fear the Lord.” The Hebrews writer echoes that sentiment, saying, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).

A real danger to our faith is turning the supernatural and foreign nature of God into something that seems commonplace or tamable.  There is nothing ordinary about our God who he is most worthy to be feared. Surprisingly, as the psalmist points out, this is where an authentic friendship with God begins.  

Think about what it means to be a friend of God.   How can friendship and fear coexist in our relationship with God?    

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the friend of sinners, unconditionally loving yet greatly to be feared.  Not only are you the Lamb that was slain but you are also the Lion of Judah. I pray that my relationship with you would grow deeper as I learn more about who you are.   Help me to realize that all of life’s pursuits pale in comparison to the pursuit of knowing you.   

Bible Reading for Today:  Acts 4


Lunch Break Study

Read John 15:14-16 (ESV): You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the condition of friendship with Jesus? (John 15:14)  
  2. What are the benefits of this friendship? (John 15:15)
  3. What are the responsibilities of friendship with Jesus?  (John 15:16)

It is a tremendous honor to be considered a friend of God.  In Christ, we can be sure that we have a friend who will stick closer to us than a brother and someone who will never leave or forsake us.  

Note

  1. One of the clear conditions of friendship with Jesus is that we have to obey his commands.   This is a reminder that our friendship with Jesus is not a peer relationship but one where he remains Lord.  As we wrestle with our obedience to God, we should take comfort in the fact that the commands of Christ are not burdensome but for our own good.  
  2. The great benefit of our friendship with the Son of God is the fact that the believer is given knowledge of what the Father is doing.  As long as we abide in our relationship with Jesus, we will able to discern God’s voice, will, purpose, and activity.  
  3. The main responsibilities we have as friend of Christ are to abide in him and to bear much fruit.  Just as every branch in the vine bears fruit, believers are called to live fruitful lives.      

Evening Reflection

Did you have the sense that God was walking with you through your daily routine?  Reflect on how God made Himself known to you today.