August 13, Thursday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), is an updated version of his blog first posted on February 25, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

Psalm 18:46-50

“The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!  Exalted be God my Savior!  47 He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me, 48 who saves me from my enemies . . . 49 Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O Lord; I will sing praises to your name. 50 He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.”

bailey-mahon-vDDyP8lIeNc-unsplashNoting the adverb “therefore” at the beginning of verse 49, a cynical person may read this as, “I’ll praise God as long as I win.” That is, in fact, how Jacob prayed soon after leaving home abruptly.  Genesis 29:20-21 reads, “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.’”  In other words, if there is nothing to eat and no new clothes to wear, then, LORD shall not be my God.”

Returning to today’s Psalm, surely, David won his share of battles, from slaying Goliath to defeating the Philistines.  Praising God after a great victory, of course, was easy, but what about when David lost, for instance, to his own son Absalom, who, after dethroning and disgracing his father, plotted to kill him (2 Sam. 16:21-22, 17:11-13).  Did his praise turn into grumbling?  During the good times as well as in his worst moments, he kept praising God, even writing a psalm: “You are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head” (Ps. 3:3).

In the end, praising God should not hinge upon whether we were victorious, for victories come and go, but on His goodness; this was ultimately expressed in sending His Son Jesus to redeem us from the wages of sin. That is why we praise and worship Him; everything else is just a bonus.

Got problems?  Do not focus on them; instead, turn your eyes on God and what He did for us through His son Jesus Christ!

Prayer: Dear God, I recognize that You have given me many victories in terms of countless answered prayers and blessings.  However, I realize today that my thankfulness towards you is based more upon these things than on what You did for me through Your Son Jesus.  While I’m still thankful for all these wonderful extras, I praise You because of Your Son who died to save me!  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 4


Lunch Break Study

Read Exodus 12:24-28: You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25 And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.

Questions to Consider

  1. Under what circumstances did the Israelites worship, fear, and trust God here? (Ex. 12:24-28;14:26-31)?
  2. Now, read what they did shortly thereafter (Ex. 15:22-5, 16:1-3, 17:1-3)?  What was the basis of Israel’s “love” for God?
  3. How can we avoid loving God based on circumstances, i.e., loving Him only when they are good (Phil. 4:11-2; 1 Tim. 6:6-8)?

Notes

  1. The Israelites worshiped the LORD when God spared them of the deadly plague that killed every first-born in Egypt.  Later, they were in awe after seeing the great power of God displayed when He parted the Red Sea.  Subsequently, “they put their trust in God”.
  2. Amazingly, that trust lasted only briefly; as soon as they got thirsty or hungry, they complained to God, which eventually led to them to conclude, “Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Ex. 14:3).  The basis of their love for God was, “What have you done for me lately?”
  3. One sure way to avoid loving God based upon circumstances in our materialistic society, is learning to be content with what we have.  Paul put the content-level at its bear minimum: “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”  If this is not internalized, we will worship, praise, and trust God only when things are going our way.

Evening Reflection

Were the circumstances of today favorable to you or not so much? Did they affect your attitude toward God?  Review your day:

Did anything happened at your work, home, or church that made you grumpy at God?  Be honest about it.

In light of the morning devotion and afternoon study, what thought should guide us during our bad times so that we can continue to praise God?  Before turning in for the night, dwell on that thought for a moment and praise the LORD.

August 12, Wednesday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by the then (2013) staff of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, is an updated version of their blog first posted on July 3, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Where is God When It Pours?”

Psalm 73:1-5, 12-14

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills . . . 12 This is what the wicked are like—always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.

benjamin-lizardo-ZlFwCWSU7Rc-unsplashOne thing the mainstream media will never report: as the gospel rapidly spreads throughout the world, persecution of Christians rapidly increases as well.  More Christians have been martyred in the last 100 years than in the first 1900 years of the Church combined.

Even apart from violent opposition, Christians are not exempt from depression, unemployment, cancer and other difficulties and tragedies.  When it rains, it pours on everyone, like the ongoing effect of COVID-19 in our daily lives.

Asaph, a psalmist of Israel, admits that his experience of suffering deeply challenged his faith in the goodness of God, especially in light of the prosperity of the wicked.  Asaph envied the health and wealth that the wicked and arrogant enjoyed.  He longed for their carefree attitude.  In the midst of his confusion and envy, Asaph came to a place where keeping his heart pure before the Lord seemed to be useless and to even bring affliction.

In what ways may you be tempted to doubt the goodness of God today?  Take a moment to reflect upon the evidence of God’s goodness to you in the cross.  Pray that when you are tempted to doubt God’s goodness, He would prompt you to respond as Asaph did and bring your honest concerns directly to the Lord.

Prayer: Father God, I am faced with many challenges and my faith in your goodness is often shaky.  Please rebuke the lies of the enemy and remind me that You are a good and faithful Father, even in the midst of suffering and pain.  Lord, I thank You that You are neither distant nor unconcerned with the burdens on my heart but that You sympathize with me. Give me grace to trust in You over my circumstances and feelings.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 3


Lunch Break Study

Read James 1:9-12 (NIV): Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Questions to Consider

  1. In what can the believers in humble circumstances take pride?
  2. What is true of riches on earth?
  3. Who is a truly blessed person?
  4. How can you loosen your grips today over your earthly riches?

Notes

  1. The humble believer can take pride in his high position. The kind of trials that God may use to mature believers might include the following: a believer going without money for an extended period of time in order that he might be impressed with his eternal riches; a believer losing a lot of money in order that he might learn that temporal things don’t matter nearly as much as preparing for eternity.
  2. Riches of the earth will surely fade away just as the sun withers a plant with its scorching heat; earthly riches cannot guarantee anything.
  3. A truly blessed person is one who perseveres under trial because that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord promises.
  4. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

In what ways did the Lord remind you of His goodness in your life today? Are you growing in your trust in His provisions?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I ask that You free me from the “love of money” that is rooted in my soul. Amen.

August 11, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on December 18, 2014.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for Today

“Don’t Be A Fool”

Proverbs 26:4-5

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

Proverbs 26:11-12

Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. 12Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

alabaster-co-CNc26e7hjTE-unsplashThe Webster’s Dictionary defines a “fool” as a “person who lacks good sense or judgment.” If we are honest with ourselves, at times, we have acted unwisely or foolishly especially when it came to making decisions by having a limited perspective of a situation; or in the things that we might have said to someone. The results of these unwise choices and actions are unwanted consequences.

One of the characteristics of fools is their unwillingness to listen to correction.  When they make mistakes, they do not listen to criticism, so they end up repeating those same mistakes.  For this reason, they are compared to “a dog that throws up and then returns to his vomit” (v.11).  The assumption is that dogs throw up because they made a mistake of eating something bad, but in spite of that, they eat it again!  So is the same for the fool who continually does not learn from past mistakes.  The wise, on the other hand, seeks God’s counsel through spiritual authority, community and prayer, desiring to live according to His ways.

Spend some time this morning asking the Lord for His wisdom and counsel in your life.  Do you trust God and His word?  Pray that you would not live like the foolish, but rather seek His ways.   

Prayer:  Lord, give me wisdom that comes from You today.  In every area of my life, help me to honor You by living as a wise person.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  1 Chronicles 2


Lunch Study Break

Read Matthew 7:24-27: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What are the characteristics of a wise person?  How about the foolish person?
  2. What will ultimately determine the source of your foundation?
  3. Which person do you resemble?  Why?  How can you become like the wise person?

Notes

  1. He builds his life on the foundation of Jesus by obeying his Word. The foolish, on the other hand, does not obey God but lives for self.  Jesus wants us to see that total surrender to Him is living wisely.
  2. Everyone will, sooner or later, face storms and hardships. And when they come, it will become evident as to what foundation one is building his or her life upon.
  3. Reflect and pray that your life would be built on the foundation of Christ.

Evening Reflection

Take some time to worship the Lord:  Meditate on his greatness and give him praise and thanksgiving for the awesome God He is.  Ask for greater joy and peace as you strive to live for Him.

August 10, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was first posted on June 14, 2014.  Charles is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The Deposit”

1 Timothy 6:20-21

“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.”

claire-brear-8gEPEcnKTFo-unsplashFor guys who like to play basketball, it matters the kind of ball that is used. Back in graduate school, with a little effort, I was able to obtain for myself a decent leather indoor basketball. I cherished and used it sparingly. So when a friend asked to borrow it, I reluctantly gave it to him, thinking it would be returned quickly. But days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, until I finally received it back. Disappointingly, it was no longer in the same condition, which rather disappointed me.

By using the word “deposit,” Paul is speaking to the solemn obligation that Timothy had to keep something of value in safe keeping, which was to be returned at another time. The deposit here that is “on loan” was not just to Timothy, but to the entire church. And this deposit is no other than the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ, which we are called to return in mint condition to the Lord on the Last Day.

This isn’t always easy given our time and culture. Because we do not seek to live in conflict with the people around us, we are always tempted to make the gospel inoffensive, for the sake of peace. But Paul clearly says that the gospel is a “stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 3:6), suggesting that we if we preach and live out the true gospel message, the culture around us will inevitably be at odds with us.

How willing are you to be at odds with your culture? Are you willing to live by standards that are foreign to the world? When is the last time you took an unpopular stance because it was more consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ? Consider if the deposit has been well entrusted in you.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for entrusting me with the gospel message. Help me to stand up to falsehood and for the truth. Give me boldness and courage to live out my faith in my workplace, at home, and among my friends. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 1


Lunch Break Study

Read Colossians 3:12-14: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What comes first, being chosen or having compassion, kindness, meekness, etc.?
  2. On what basis should we forgive other people?
  3. What binds all of the godly characteristics together? Would you say that you have made the love the primary goal of your life?

Notes

  1. We are always chosen first. This shows us that our relationship is based on grace.
  2. We ought to forgive those who hurt us because God first forgave us.
  3. Love is what binds us together. Apart from making love our primary goal, our lives are of little significance.

Evening Reflection

How is your love life with the Lord going? Would you say that your day with the Lord was full of love?

August 9, Sunday

UPDATED Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is an updated version of AMI QT Devotional first posted on August 13, 2013.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“From the Prayer of Mary”

Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Several things jump out from this beautiful prayer of Mary.

elijah-beaton-37X5UW-erR0-unsplashFirst, note that Mary sang this praise to God upon hearing the testimony by her relative Elizabeth, also the mother of John the Baptizer, about the child Jesus in her womb.  This is to suggest that a testimony about Jesus from the mouth of believers should be enough for us to glorify the Lord.  However, Mary was not the first one who sang this song.  Although each song was unique, Hannah, the prophet Samuel’s mother, and King David sang this genre of song first (1 Sam. 2:1-10; Ps. 62). May we also praise the Lord like Mary, Hannah and David.

Second, note also that their songs are about God and His attention to details of our lives.  As such, the way God is and what He does are so contrary to the worldly standards and how our culture operates (Matt. 19:30; 20:16).  In sum, there is no area too small for God not to intervene, that is, God’s sovereignty reaches out to every aspect of our lives.  What a relief to all us!

Third, be reminded that, in contrast to how Roman Catholicism views Mary—a sinless person—she was a sinner just as we all are.  In other words, Romans 3:23, which states that for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, applies to her as well as to us. Mary, therefore, was in desperate need of a Savior.  For this reason, she said, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (v. 47); only a sinner needs a Savior.  With a doubt, true praises come forth from our hearts at the moment when we truly recognize our need for the Savior, Jesus Christ.  May we also encounter the Lord in the same way.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, my soul magnifies and glories Your precious name. Be exalted on high, my Lord, for You are like none other and there is no one like You in the universe. Thank You for giving us Your Son Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Philemon 1

August 8, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Young Kim of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia, was originally posted on June 4/5, 2013.  Young is a graduate of University of Illinois (BS), Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Westminster Theological Seminary (MA).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Guard Your Heart . . . in Your Marriage”

Proverbs 4:23-25, 27 (NIV84)

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

carolyn-v-Xh_iVIo-u-8-unsplashGuard your heart! Guard it with God’s word.  Guard it with prayer.  Guard it from bitterness. Guard it from selfishness. Keep it away from hopelessness. But remember this: even if you failed to guard it and it is wounded, you can find forgiveness and healing in Jesus!!!

Prayer:  Jesus I am weak, so I give you my heart.  Let the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you today.  Amen.

Proverbs 5:18, 19

“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.”

Having a great marriage is a gift of God; but it also takes effort.  Marriage takes much prayer and work.  We need to understand that marriage is under attack by the enemy.  Pray for your spouse and ask the Lord to protect our marriage.  If you are not married, then pray that God would prepare you for marriage by molding you to be like Jesus.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, may the husbands of AMI love their wives like Jesus loved the church.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 5-6

August 7, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Peter Yoon of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, is an updated version of his blog first posted on May 16, 2014.  Peter is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“I Don’t Remember a Thing”

Titus 3:1-2

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”

analia-baggiano-gqPs0ChvwRw-unsplashA pastor once commented that we suffer from a 30-second memory ability when it comes to following good instructions. A professor often repeated that “a good memory is not as good as a ragged pen.” All of us tend to forget, whether it be returning a book to the library, paying the bills, or friends’ birthdays. And so we set up Google calendars or hang up calendars on our refrigerators to “remind” ourselves.

Apparently, the congregation that Titus oversaw also overlooked matters. However, these matters were of utmost importance for the Christian community, that is, if it was going to an effective witness for the Lord. Paul, therefore, instructs Titus to “remind” the people of God.

Today, we live in an age of information. Thanks to technology, we have immediate access to information in just about any language at any given moment. And so we download all sorts of information to our brains. By the time you arrive at work or your morning class, you’ve already read through pages of news, blogs, articles, Facebook posts, etc.; but how is it that you can’t remember a thing! Do you remember a time when you actually used to remember a person’s phone number? Do you remember the sermon from this past Sunday?

Apparently, the 1st century congregation also forgot the pastor’s sermon by Monday, and that is why Paul tells Titus to remind the people.

Has God recently “reminded” you of something that you needed to follow through? Perhaps God used your small group, a friend, or your spouse to send out His reminder. God is giving you another opportunity for obedience. Take the opportunity to follow through today.    

Prayer: Dear God, I admit that I can easily forget the things that You have taught me and revealed to me. Thank You for sending me reminders of the ways in which You desire for me to live. Grant me Your grace this day to follow through on the things You are reminding me to obey. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 4


Lunch Break Study 

Read Joshua 4:1-9 (NIV): When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” 4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe,5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” 8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does God command the Israelites to gather twelve stones after crossing the Jordan River?
  2. For whom was the stone memorial erected?
  3. What memorials can you intentionally build around your life or in your family so that even after some time has passed, God’s greatness and goodness will be remembered?

Notes

  1. The twelve stones were to serve forever as a sign and as a memorial (cf. Ex. 12:26–27; Dt. 6:20–25). Memory plays an important role in any society. Without memory a person loses identity, and without a history to sustain it, a society and the world around it become virtually like a phantom. Any society that hopes to endure must become, as sociologists put it, “a community of memory and hope.”
  2. In the future, the children of the Israelites would ask, “What do these stones mean?” As the Israelites were crossing into unchartered and dangerous territories, they would have been reminded and comforted to know that their future children would inhabit the land.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Spend some time reflecting on some critical moments or season in your life where the Lord revealed Himself to you. As you reflect, give God thanks for His sovereign foundations that He’s established thus far in your life.

August 6, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional QT, provided by Kate Moon, was first posted on May 12, 2014.  Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Snoop Dogg Got Nothing on God’s Word”

Titus 2:6-8

“Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. [7] In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness [8] and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

“So what we get drunk?

So what we smoke weed?

We’re just having fun

We don’t care who sees

So what we go out?

That’s how it’s supposed to be

Living young and wild and free”

from “Young, Wild & Free” by Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa, feat. Bruno Mars

lee-campbell-QVnw_3l_n0Y-unsplashBefore exploring this theme further, I feel the need to start with a disclaimer.  I do not regularly listen to Snoop Dogg – I don’t pretend to be cool enough (actually, is he still cool?  I’m not sure).  I’d never heard of this song before I googled the phrase “young wild free” a few minutes ago.  Taking a quick look at the lyrics, I had my doubts: is this something appropriate to be meditating on first thing in the morning?  And yet it seemed to capture perfectly the point: that popular culture often sends the message that youth is a time to throw off all restraint, in direct opposition to the Bible’s “be self-controlled.”

The beat is catchy, the tune sticks in your mind.  The opening scene of the video is pretty funny – I didn’t watch the rest.  The song sold 159,000 digital copies its first week out and was nominated for Best Rap Song at the February 2013 Grammy Awards (Source: Wikipedia).  How can the unpopular message of the Bible compete?  Yet when the lyrics of a popular song get tested against the timeless truths of the Bible, there is no contest – truth wins out, hands down.

The truth is, isn’t getting drunk and other rebellious behavior often because people care too much about “who sees” rather than the other way around?  The truth is, doesn’t all this going out stop being fun after a while, just leaving one feeling empty inside in the end?  The truth is, there are alternative ways to live, and as believers, we get our “how it’s supposed to be,” not from the lyrics of a crowd-pleasing tune but from the ultimate source, the God who gave us this life and something so much more fulfilling to spend our youth on.

King Solomon, after having led a hedonistic life that Snoop Dogg can only dream about, summed up his realization this way: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth” (Eccle. 12:1).   So, whether you are young or old, or somewhere in between, remember the Lord today; enjoy his grace.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I have to confess, the idea of being young, wild and free is so appealing to me.  But help me to find the adventure and freedom I am looking for in You. Would You help me to experience the true freedom there is in living wisely and well?  Help me to be self-controlled today.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Galatians 5:1, 13-23: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free . . . [13] You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh . . . [16] So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. [17] For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want . . . [19] The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; [20] idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions [21] and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like . . . [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness and self-control. . .”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the calling of a believer? (vv. 1, 13, 16)
  2. How is self-control related to freedom? (vv. 17, 23)   Why is self-control critical to ascertaining the true freedom? (1 Cor. 10:23-4)
  3. Is there anything from vv. 19-21 that you need to refrain from?  Anything from vv. 22-23 to pursue?

Notes

  1. Being a Christian is about living in freedom.  The believer’s freedom is about being set free from the slavery of sin.  In the Holy Spirit, we have the power not to be ruled by our fleshly desires.
  2. Exercising self-control is exercising our freedom.  This connection is critical because while “‘everything is permissible’—but not everything is beneficial.  ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is constructive.’”
  3. It is important to remember that self-control is not will-power.  Will-power has our own strength as its source.  Self-control is a fruit that people who have the Holy Spirit living in them will naturally bear – so be encouraged and make your best efforts, knowing that the Holy Spirit empowers you.

Evening Reflection

How did I do today in terms of yielding to the leading of the Holy Spirit, allowing him to help me exercise self-control in my life?

August 5, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was first posted on June 18, 2014.  Charles is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What Training for the World Cup and Godliness Has in Common”

1 Timothy 4:7-11

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 11 Command and teach these things. 

angele-kamp-_D7sZ_4B1dI-unsplashThe World Cup in Brazil is in full swing now. For an athlete to get to this stage, there must be years of sacrifice marked by the most rigorous training possible. Only when all potentials are realized, and even then, to only a few, World Cup glory is a minute possibility.

Here in our passage today, the apostle Paul uses the example of physical exercise to illustrate a great spiritual truth. Although there is tremendous value in physical exercise, we are told that we must put as much effort into the exercise unto godliness as these athletes do into the exercise of their bodies. Paul tells Timothy to train himself, not for physical fitness, but for godliness. Do you desire to be godly? If so, are you willing to train yourself with the commitment and rigor of a world-class athlete to become a godly person?

Godliness is not about being perfect in character, for none of us will ever attain that on this side of eternity. Godliness on this side of heaven is attained when our disposition is lined up with the pursuit of God’s glory. Godliness is not one of the many Christian traits we are supposed to aspire to; it is the basic, foundational character upon which the other characters rest. In other words, it’s what holds the Fruit of the Spirit together. Nothing is excluded, and all are tied together.

So what does this look like? It’s like when you do your ordinary duties with an eye to God’s glory.  God is at the center of your thoughts. He is the reason why you do what you do and why you choose not to do what you don’t do. In making Him the end, and not just the means, you are training yourself to become a godly person.

So again, I ask, Are you focusing on what is important to the Lord? Are you avoiding compromise because you cherish God’s glory more? Are you making a conscious effort to adhere to the teachings of Scripture, demonstrating a pattern of godly transformation? Let the Holy Spirit empower you to make the changes necessary to be more like Christ.

Prayer: Lord, may my greatest ambition in life be to pursue godliness. Help me to go after godliness more than I do my career or academic success. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 2


Lunch Break Study

Read Titus 2:11-14 (ESV): For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, [12] training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, [13] waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, [14] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Questions

  1. What kind of lives are we called to live according to v.12?
  2. What blocks godliness from being exhibited in me?
  3. How can I make godliness practical throughout the day?

Notes

  1. Life of godliness.
  2. Ungodliness and worldly passions; such as sin, “lukewarmness,” pride, greed, unforgiving heart, etc.
  3. Often godliness is the result of making routine decisions that honor God because you sense the presence of His Spirit in your life; you are motivated and led by the Holy Spirit throughout the day.

Evening Reflection

Did your day reflect your ambition for God’s presence today? Could you honestly say that you pursued godliness today?

August 4, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on November 19, 2013.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“It Matters Most When We Are Not Feeling It”

Psalm 108:1-13 (NIV)

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. 2 Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 3 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. 4 For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. 6 Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered. 7 God has spoken from his sanctuary: “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth. 8 Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter. 9 Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.” 10 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? 11 Is it not you, God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? 12 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. 13 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

lee-campbell-QVnw_3l_n0Y-unsplashThere are times in our lives when we naturally sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord: when things are going well; when we return from a mission trip or retreat; when we finally get that promotion.  When we find ourselves in seasons of abundance, such as these moments, we give God the praise out of the natural outpouring of our feelings.

But other times, we have to stir our hearts to praise God. It is during these times that we need to be reminded that God is still worthy, even when we’re not feeling it. It’s easy for us to just run off our lists of requests when we come to God in prayer, but it’s important for us to start, as David did in this psalm, with praise and declaration of God’s majesty and worth (especially in those times when we’re not feeling it—that’s when it matters most). And as we praise him, often our feelings will follow.

Let’s stir our hearts to praise the Lord this morning!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I shall praise You whatever the circumstances.  I shall exalt Your holy name whether I am “well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want,” for I am eternally grateful for Your Son who died for my sin.   Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Galatians 1


Lunch Break Study

Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11:  Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What promises are we given in this passage?
  2. How are we able to “abound in every work”?
  3. What do you think Romans 12:1-2 mean?

Notes

  1. If we sow, we will reap. This is not merely a principle to live by (“you reap what you sow”) but it’s a promise from God. God will give us great increase, not only in material things, but spiritually as well.
  2. God gives us an abundance of blessing. He makes sure that we have exactly what we need all the time and in everything we do. Psalm 23:1 says that God’s people “lack nothing” because He provides for us. This not only enables us to do good works, but should also excite us to do them. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13).
  3. Romans 12:1-2 calls us to give ourselves to God as an offering. While God calls us to give of our possessions, He also calls us to give our whole selves to Him. Yet sometimes our devotion to God is reluctant and under compulsion. Knowing that God provides for us and abundantly blesses our gifts, let us offer ourselves to Him cheerfully and abundantly (not grudgingly and sparingly).

Evening Reflection

A pastor said, “We hear a great deal about the Lord loving cheerful givers; we wonder where He finds them.”

Are you a cheerful giver? Do you give freely to those around you? Do you joyfully give yourself over to God daily? Pray and ask God to help you become a more joyful in your giving, trusting that He will abundantly bless you.