June 24, Saturday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 19-25 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland.  Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles).  He is married to Christina.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 10:5-7

Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven,  6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, 7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.

Over the last few years, I have been attending a lot of weddings. Watching this couple whom I’ve known since their freshmen year, thinking about all the things that they struggled through and overcome, how they have grown in faith, and how they continue to fight the good fight even now, has been such a blessing. It has reminded me of so many good times we’ve shared, but also, the dark times we treaded together, trusting in the Lord. This is one of my favorite parts of pastoring—walking through the different seasons of life together. But as many of you can probably relate, this also means confronting many situations where we are left thinking, “Why did this happen, Lord?” or “I believe You are good no matter what, but why is this really necessary?” And unfortunately, there is no cleanly packaged answer to these questions.

We see in the passage this grand angel of the Lord that we are introduced to at the beginning of this chapter, and He who lives forever and ever makes an oath. The angel declares that there will be no more delay, that the mystery of God is finished. Commentators note that when we read mystery of God, it doesn’t primarily mean something hidden or kept secret, but rather it means act of divine knowledge being revealed to man. Paul similarly talks about the mystery of God in Ephesians as the revelation that Jews and Gentiles are now fellow heirs and members of the same body. The angel declares in the Name of the Lord that these things will come to a finish, that is, to completion.

Brothers and sisters, take heart, for there will come a day where all the questions of your heart will be answered. There will come a day where all the things you have been through, including all that you have suffered and endured, will find its answer. There is a finality to these things. And although that ending should cause the unrepentant to fear, for those who are in Christ, it is the moment that we have been longing for.

Prayer: Father, thank You that not only my life, but all of history has been in Your hands. Thank You that all that has happened and will happen has been according to Your perfect plan. Help me to live not as one bogged down by what I see right before me but live with the hope of what is to come in mind. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Haggai 1-2

 

June 23, Friday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 19-25 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland.  Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles).  He is married to Christina.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 10:1-4

I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.”

I’ve mentioned C.S. Lewis’ sermon The Weight of Glory in a previous quiet time, but there is a picture that Lewis draws for the believer in how to grasp the kind of glory God has designed us for. Lewis writes, “To please God… to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness… to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”[1] The burden he writes of the glory of being God’s masterpiece is something beyond what we can imagine.

There is something unique about this next chapter of Revelation that reveals the kind of glory that we have come to participate in. So far, whenever we have read of angels in Revelation, most of the focus has been upon their actions; this time, John takes extra time to describe in detail the characteristics of this other angel. Commentators note the language used to describe where his feet are placed (an identifying characterization of the angel repeated throughout this chapter). He is described to have the sea and the earth under his two feet, displaying his towering figure and the dominance he has over the world. His voice, like a lion, roar along with seven peals of thunder. Needless to say, the appearance of this angel (especially from John’s now shifted view from earth) is impressive.

A few things to consider: this letter was written to the first century churches where they had incredible, violent oppression from the outside and divisive heresy from within. To the world, the church was a tiny, insignificant group of people, but to those whose eyes are open to the spiritual reality, we see in this angel just how great the kingdom of God truly is. The powers at work for God, and therefore, for the church, and the power of the good news that is proclaimed, stretches across all land and sea as the angel stands above them. The church, though seemingly insignificant in the eyes of the world, must realize that we are a part of a kingdom of utter glory and power.

Brothers and sisters, may you be encouraged today as you recognize the grandness of the Kingdom that you are a part of. Through your union with Christ, you are now part of a God’s glorious Kingdom that cannot be shaken. Yes, we are called to fend for our faith and the church must be a faithful witness to the Lord. But also, we must remember who it is that we are defending.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for allowing us to be part of Your Kingdom that is so glorious and powerful. We proclaim that nothing can stop this Kingdom. Although in the eyes of this world, the church may look like a thing of the past or insignificant, we believe that the church is part of something so much bigger than what meets the eye. Help us to live with that kind of perspective. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

[1] C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, http://www.verber.com/mark/xian/weight-of-glory.pdf, pg 6.

Bible Reading for Today: Titus 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Hebrews 12:22-29: But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

Questions to Consider

  1. Verse 22 begins with the conjunction “but,” which causes us to look to what has come just before the passage. What comparison is the Hebrew writer making?
  2. In verse 25-27, what will happen when the Lord once more shakes the earth and heaven? What does this reveal about what remains, that is, God’s kingdom?
  3. When you think about what it means that in Christ, you are a citizen of God’s Kingdom, how does this change your perspective on how you view your life?

Notes

  1. A contrasting is happening here—one that has been done throughout the book of Hebrews. The writer is comparing how God once related to His people in the times of Moses (where they could not even come close to the mountain of God lest they be struck dead) and now, in Christ our great Mediator, we are able to join in the assembly of God’s Kingdom.
  2. The Lord declares that He will once more shake the earth and heavens so that only what is unshakeable (meaning, only the things that have been made perfect and righteous) will stand. It is a picture of God’s Kingdom that is holy and pure, a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, one whose King is a consuming fire that will devour anything that is unrighteous.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

One of the greatest challenges of life is fighting the temptation of being consumed by the things of this world—to make our lives all about our jobs, our families, our achievements, or even our struggles. But as you have reflected upon the awe-inspiring Kingdom of God whose King is for you, how has this challenged your perspective on life? Engage your imagination and see how God has made you part of that Kingdom and how that challenges the way you view your current circumstances.

June 22, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 19-25 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland.  Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles).  He is married to Christina.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelations 9.12- 21

The first woe is past; behold, two woes are still coming after these things. 13 Then the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 one saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 And the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released, so that they would kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the armies of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. 17 And this is how I saw in the vision the horses and those who sat on them: the riders had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone. 18 A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents and have heads, and with them they do harm. 20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; 21 and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.

Central to the theology of Jonathan Edwards, the revivalist pastor of the first Great Awakening, was this idea of beauty. For Edwards, we are created with an inclination toward beauty. Now this isn’t just physical beauty, but a spiritual beauty, one that comes from perfect harmony and love; the ultimate beauty being God. Edwards argues that we fall into sin because we find sin beautiful. But when the Holy Spirit comes upon us and illuminates our hearts, we are then able to see the One who is truly beautiful and to see sin for what it truly is. We become captivated by the beauty of God. But it doesn’t stop there. The Holy Spirit continues to work on our hearts so that our ability to see and understand the beauty of God grows as we continue to walk with Him.

In Edwards, just like when we look directly at the sun, what we actually see is black—we see the dark fallenness of our souls, and yet we are captivated because of the love of God that is willing to love such fallen creatures. And we respond to this amazing God through obedience, worship, and our affections.

In Revelation, the intensity of the judgments that falls upon the world seems to intensify with every seal broken and trumpet blown. And it may be easy for us to start feeling like all of this is too much, but through it, we are able to see the magnitude of sin that elicits such a response from God. But what we also see in this passage is God’s desire for His people to repent; the judgments so far have been a warning to the people for the sake of repentance.

We see that despite our fleshly response to such death and destruction, we see clearly that what God desires for His people is true repentance. He desires for people to come to realize their fallen ways that lead them away from the life abundant. Unfortunately, as John woefully records, the people do not repent.

For those of us who have experienced the forgiveness of God, the weightiness of sin shouldn’t be any different. In fact, as we come to know the holiness and beauty of God more and more, the seriousness of sin should continue to grow alongside the greatness of God’s redemptive work in our lives. If our understanding of salvation becomes static, something that has happened in the past, our sensitivity to sin can easily become dull. Faith lived out is dynamic.

Repentance should be the posture in which Christians live as we continue to see the depths of our sin, but also the greatness of God’s grace upon our lives. We wrestle with our fleshly self-dependence to replace it with utter dependence on God. We need the constant revelation of the Holy Spirit that calls us to worship and repentance. May we never become static in our relationship with God.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for revealing the depths of my sin. Although it is often uncomfortable, sometimes even unbearable to see how sinful I am, I thank You for Your Son who has overcome my sinfulness. May I never lose sight of Him. And if I do, may I never be too slow to fall on my knees in repentance. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Titus 2


Lunch Break Study

Read Hebrews 12:4-11: In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does Hebrews teach us in terms of those that experience the discipline of the Lord?
  2. What does our experience of the discipline of the Lord reveal about who God is? What does the Hebrews writer teach us is the purpose for this?
  3. Jonathan Edwards writes that for those who have not accepted Jesus in this life, if they were to go to heaven and see God, it would be sheer agony to behold such beauty. What does it mean for you that even through hardships and discipline that God is giving you a foretaste of heaven?

Notes

  1. The Hebrews writer teaches us that our experience of discipline (and even the ability to recognize that it is the discipline of the Lord) reveals the greater truth that we are His sons and daughters. It is out of His love for us. This discipline will be short-lived (v. 10) and may not be joyful but sorrowful, but it will yield a greater fruit (v.11).
  2. It reveals God as our Heavenly Father who disciplines us for something greater that is to come. We are called to be subject to God just like how we respect our earthly Father. The reason for all this is for training—so that we may share in His holiness (v.10). Through repentance and correction, we are being prepared for the greater glory that we will one day experience.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

As you have reflected upon a lifestyle of repentance and constantly coming back to the Lord, what has the Holy Spirit revealed to you today? Are there specific areas that you have come to realize or rediscover that needs to be made subject to the Lord? Spend a few moments thanking the Lord, that He reveals our sin to us, despite how painful it maybe. Trust His love for you.

June 21, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 19-25 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland.  Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles).  He is married to Christina.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 9.1-5

Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man.

If you spend any amount of time online, you will see how drastically things have changed over the years in order to secure information online. Those highlighted scales of password strength, entering in the secret code to verify that you are human, two-step and two-factor authentication—these things have become an everyday part of our lives. But the reality is, these methods are in need of constant updating and changing because the security that they offer is only temporary.

The book of Revelation continues with John’s account of some horrific events. A quick note about reading the book of Revelations: this is an especially difficult book to understand as there are many different ways to read it—whether these events are account of things that have happened in the past, things that will happen in the future, or a mixture of both—drawing from all these different perspectives is probably necessary for a fuller understanding of this account. For instance, many scholars debate the identity of this star from heaven which had fallen. Some say it is a fallen angel (perhaps Satan), while others argue that this descended star is the gospel message or even Christ Himself. Though this is probably not the best place for a deep theological discussion, there are definitely things to glean here.

A few keywords to note: given (v. 1, 3), told (v. 4), not permitted (v.5). Are you starting to see a pattern here? Whether this fallen star is indeed the Prince of Darkness or the Prince of Peace, there is an establishment of authority that is over them. Even the locusts that are released—creatures that throughout history have decimated entire villages and communities—are given and not permitted certain things. In other words, despite how overwhelming these things may be from our perspective, there is indeed a God who never loses control over the world.

God is in control, brothers and sisters. This passage is talking about God’s control over the things that face people who do not repent. How much more so for people who have confessed their faith in Christ? Whatever you may be facing now or in the time to come, God never changes. He is and will always be in control. Then that means whatever you are facing, it [1] is allowed by God (though not necessarily caused by Him), [2] is restricted by God, and [3] will result for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8.28). This is our ultimate security—no matter what we may face in life (whether the loss of a job or our Facebook accounts being hacked), God is the ultimate source of our security.

Prayer: Lord, thank You that You are, in Yourself, complete and perfect. You are the Creator. You are the Ruler of this world. Nothing is a surprise to You. Nothing occurs that goes unnoticed by You. And I as Your child can rest in the security. Thank You for being my security. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Titus 1


Lunch Break Study

Read Mark 4.35-41:  On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does Mark tell us about the interaction between Jesus and the disciples prior to their departure for the other side?
  2. What do you think is going on in the minds of the disciples when they face the storm? What can we learn about their understanding of Jesus based upon their response?
  3. Jesus has the power to even command the winds and the storms. How is the Holy Spirit convicting your heart in terms of the winds and storms of your life?

Notes

  1. Before they set sail, note that it is Jesus’ desire and command that they leave and go to the other side. If you flip over to Mark 5, we see that He crosses the sea to heal a man tormented by a legion of demons. Jesus has a mission. He knows that there will be a storm, but Jesus also knows that He has authority over all things.
  2. Plainly, we see that they lacked faith as Jesus says. They looked at the slumbering Jesus and thought that He did not care for them, that He did not care about what was happening. What we see is that the circumstances had become their lord in that situation, not Jesus. Jesus’ display of His authority brings upon the disciples a holy fear of who He truly is—the Lord of even the winds and the storms.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Theologically, we can sort out the relationship between God’s control, God’s allowance, and the circumstances that we face, but to understand in our hearts is another thing. As you have reflected upon God’s authority over all things today, what has God revealed to you about who He is, and secondly, that He is for you? Spend some time worshipping the One who was, who is, and is to come.

June 20, Tuesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 19-25 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland.  Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles).  He is married to Christina.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 8:6-13

And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them. 7 The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. 8 The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood, 9 and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed. 10 The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters. 11 The name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter. 12 The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way. 13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”

I have a confession: I’ve been taking this three-week intensive course on Jonathan JEEdwards (think Great Awakening time, where they spoke English in such a way that even people familiar with Old English wouldn’t have fully understood); lectures Monday through Thursday, 8:30-12:30PM, about 100 pages of reading every night. I promise I’m not sitting here complaining, but with ministry and what not, I got pretty behind on things. And when our midterm paper was due on Monday, I was nowhere close to being ready. So what did I do? I prepared a heartfelt, apologetic speech to ask my professor for an extension. And lo and behold, he granted it—what a nice guy!

I’m not sure where you were the last time you were in school, but in today’s sensibilities, it’s almost expected that these things happen; and it’s almost expected that we can ask and receive an extension (perhaps it’s more of a millennial mindset). It’s almost shocking if an extension is not given. And I wonder if this kind of sensibility seeps into our spirituality as well.

If you remember from yesterday’s passage, we are introduced to this group of seven angels who are given trumpets. Then we see the angel pouring out the fire from the altar onto earth which results in thunder, rumbling, lightning and an earthquake. Now, the Scripture gives no reference to how long the interval between these events and the events of the passage we read today is, but we see that there is a time of preparation before the seven trumpets are blown. And what unfolds is horrific—an eagle that has a birds-eye view of all the events cries out, “Woe, woe, woe!” And this isn’t even the end of it. The eagle directs our attention to the three trumpets that have not been blown yet.

Foretelling of such events that points to the judgment and wrath that will come upon those who are unrepentant are probably parts of Scripture that we are tempted to skip over or not give too much thought. In fact, it is this very instinct that caused people to write off hell as a reality of those who do not repent. However, the Bible is very clear that there will come a judgment day, and some will face the wrath of a perfectly just God. But this also tells us of God’s perfect timing according to His perfect wisdom. And despite those of us who have assurance of salvation in Christ Jesus, passages like this must direct our attention to those around us who do not have the same kind of assurance. Brothers and sisters—there will be a judgment day. But until that happens, may your hearts be drawn to compassion for those who draws compassion from our Heavenly Father.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of salvation, freely given by grace. Thank You for the assurance I have in You. But Father, I recognize that there are many people around me who do not know You as their heavenly Father. I ask that You would break my heart for them. Pour out Your Holy Spirit that I may have eyes to see and ears to hear how You are at work around me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 16


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 25:1-13: Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Questions to Consider

  1. Compare the virgins who are deemed as foolish and those that are deemed as prudent/wise. What do you think is the biggest difference between those who were foolish and those who were wise?
  2. What is the inevitable reality of this passage?
  3. Reflecting on this parable, how does this challenge your perception on life? How does it challenge your perception of those around you who do not know the Lord?

Notes

  1. Jesus compares the two by those who are prepared and those who are not. Despite how we may normally perceive this story, when you look closely at verse 3, it’s not so much that the foolish ran out of oil; they never brought any to begin with. The wise, however, knew exactly what they needed for this journey.
  2. I think there are several inevitabilities that are at play here: (1) The virgins in the passage all have a lamp and are awaiting the bridegroom. In other words, when we extrapolate the parable, this passage teaches us that everybody is awaiting a savior, whether we recognize it or not. (2) The Bridegroom will come, that is, Jesus will return one day. And (3) there will come a moment where the door will be shut. Therefore, the warning for us is to be on the alert.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

C.S. Lewis, in his sermon “The Weight of Glory,” reveals to the congregation the insurmountable glory that God has poured out upon us, the incredible beauty that we are to possess as His creation. The challenge given by Lewis is to not only see ourselves as these vessels, but to look upon others with the same kind of potential awe. Upon reflection today, how has the Holy Spirit challenged your perspective on those around you, especially those who may not know Christ? Spend some time covering each individual in prayer by name.

June 19, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 19-25 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland.  Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles).  He is married to Christina.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 8:1-5

When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.

I’ve had the privilege of being able to attend three different seminaries during my time in ministry, all with very different perspectives on theology and the Christian life. And as I have learned through my professors and classmates, you start to see how wide the spectrum of thoughts that people hold on various topics such as prayer. You have people on one extreme where prayer is merely an activity of religion because they emphasize the sovereignty of God so much that they don’t see the benefit of prayer. But on the other extreme, you have people who pray in such a way as if everything still depend upon what they do or say. But the reality is, prayer is neither of these extremes. Prayer is more relational, more dynamic than that.

In the passage today, we see the final seal being broken open by the Lamb. Every time a seal is broken, we’ve seen since chapter 6 an outpouring of God’s judgment upon earth. But this final one is different from the other ones. We see the participation of the saints’ prayers in the unfolding of the events that follow. Commentator Leon Morris points out how the prayers of the saints rise with the incense to God out of the angel’s hand, suggesting that there is a sense of oneness amongst the saints and the angels of heaven. This reminds us that we are never alone in our prayers. It reminds us of the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12 that stand testifying of God’s faithfulness. The sense is that there is a participation of the prayers of the saints in the events that unfold in God’s sovereign plan. What an incredible reality of prayer!

How is your prayer life these days? Has prayer become an empty gesture, a to-do that you check off because that’s the right thing to do? It is passages like today’s where we see that our prayers do matter, that they rise from the altar to the throne of our Heavenly Father. And although our God is indeed sovereign and in control, He also invites us to participate in His unfolding of redemption. Won’t you respond to His invitation today?

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of prayer. You are sovereign, omniscient, and all powerful, yet You allow imperfect beings to participate in Your redemptive work. Lord, fill us with Your Holy Spirit so that we may pray according to Your will. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 15


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Matthew 6:5-15: And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.’14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Questions to Consider

  1. As you meditate on these verses, what can you glean from this passage about prayer? How are the prayers of those discussed in verses 5-8 different from how Jesus teaches us to pray in verses 9-15?
  2. In the greater context of this passage, there is a repetition of the phrase, “they have their reward in full” (verses 2, 5). What is implied in this passage about the nature of prayer?
  3. How does Jesus’ instructions on prayer speak to your personal prayer life?

Notes

  1. There are several things at play in this passage: There is a contrast to the visibility of the one who prays. There is a contrast in terms of the content of their prayers. One thing you can draw from this passage is that prayer is an act of intimacy with your Heavenly Father—it is from a place of intimacy for the things that are so intimate to you (such as your everyday meal).
  2. This passage talks much about those who seek an earthly reward will receive just that, and the manner of their actions reveal it. What is implied (or perhaps explicit in verse 1) is that there is indeed a reward for our actions, but it comes down to the kind of reward we desire. Those who want to be seen by others, they will receive their reward. But those who pray in intimacy with their Heavenly Father, they will also be rewarded—God will respond to our prayers. Nevertheless, there is indeed a reward.
  3. Personal response.

EVENING REFLECTION

Prayer is an act of faith. How has today’s reflection on prayer challenged your notion of what it means to live by faith? How does your prayer life reflect the level of faith with which you live? Spend some time in intimate conversation with your Heavenly Father, asking for greater faith that you may ask and receive, not just any reward, but His reward.

June 18, Sunday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 12-18 are written by Pastor Andrew Kim at Tapestry Church.  Andrew, a graduate of Eternity Bible College, is currently attending Fuller Theological Seminary.  He and Jessie were married in 2014.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 7:13-17

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

In the early 1900’s, there was great optimism about where the world was headed. Many believed that through the ingenuity and creativity of human beings, it was only a matter of time before a utopian society would be ushered in. However, this optimism was short-lived.  In a matter of a few decades, two world wars had devastated the world, leaving countries in ruins and people in a state of shock.  Instead of seeing the human potential to cultivate a world defined by welfare, people experienced the human potential for destruction. With millions dead, it was clear that the world was not getting better. Ironically, humanity’s endeavor to resolve the world’s most profound issues led to the bloodiest century known to man. It seems that we have always attempted to usher in a perfect world, to find effective solutions to man’s ills, and bring lasting change. But because of sin, this has been an impossible task. All of man’s attempts have fallen short and the world is still filled with strife.

One of the most profound truths we find in the book of Revelation is that God is also at work to bring about lasting change. But unlike us, the promise of renewal is guaranteed to come to pass. It is not a matter of if but a matter of when. Here in Revelation 7, we see a glimpse of what the future holds for those who belong to God. There will be a day where there are no more tears and no more hunger. You see, this vision was a source of encouragement for the recipients of this letter. As the early church attempted to build a world reflecting the values of the kingdom, it was a difficult task. At times, it would have seemed pointless and too daunting to continue in this journey. However, the vision of Revelation promises that their work and perseverance will not be in vain; that not even death could undermine the value of their toil. In the end, they will be brought to a place where they will find true rest, where there will be no more thirst and be led to springs of living water. Let us take time to reflect on this vision and find a reenergizing hope to help us to continue to fight the good fight of faith, because in the end, it will not go in vain!

Prayer: Father, I confess that it is difficult to live out the calling you have given to all of us. At times, it seems that our hard work for your kingdom does not make a difference and it can be discouraging. But this morning, we invite You to fill our hearts with a future hope that gives us a renewed sense of energy for the work before us. May my life be marked by a perseverance and faithfulness when it comes to the work of your kingdom, knowing in the end, the world you desire will come to pass.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 14