May 28, Sunday

The AMI QT Devotionals from May 22-28 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He is married to Esther.  

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 2:18-28 (ESV): “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works,23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule[c] them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

One of the highest virtues of society these days is tolerance. A popular phrase “You do you” perpetuates this line of thinking: basically, this phrase means that you should do whatever you want to do, think however you want to think, and be whoever you want to be without fear of judgment. While I get the sentiment of this phrase, I also feel that it has spiraled out of control, particularly in our social landscape where tolerance is highly prized. Several months ago, a famous NBA player Kyrie Irving came out to say that he believed the earth was flat—what a shocking statement! The more shocking fact was that many came to his defense and said that if he believed it were true, then no one should be able to discredit his beliefs. Absolute truth has been discarded as something in the past, and relativism seems to be the popular belief that society holds to now.

Even within the church, there has been shifting views, where absolute truth that has always been held in the past have started to be questioned and discarded. Because tolerance has been celebrated as an important pillar of our society, oftentimes it can be mistakenly equated to love: love is tolerance, tolerance is love. Today’s passage shows us that the church in Thyatira struggled with this as well. Jesus commends this church for being full of love, faith, service and patient endurance. They are fulfilling their purpose as a church that extends love. However, when we look at the indictment against this church, we realize that they have been tolerating sin and wrong teaching; this teaching spread quickly, leading many astray. And this is all for the sake of love—and Jesus is not pleased with that.

This same struggle exists within the church today. Do we need to open the door wider (to the point of potentially sacrificing sound doctrine) so that we can love more people and give them a chance to come into the kingdom of God? Do we need to sacrifice love to hold true to the sound doctrine, guarding the faith and keeping it pure? It’s interesting to see that the church in Ephesus was faithful to sound doctrine and was zealous in chasing out heretical teaching—but they struggled with love. On the other hand, the church in Thyatira was the exact opposite: it was commended for its love and hospitality, but condemned for its tolerance of wrong teaching. One thing I appreciate about the “radical middle” approach is that one doesn’t need to be sacrificed for the other. We must earnestly pursue love – loving one another and loving those who believe differently from us—but we must also earnestly pursue faithful teaching, maintaining sound doctrine and purity in the faith, not tolerating sin and causing others to stumble. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, and I believe this struggle won’t end any time soon. However, our Lord encourages us: “hold fast until I come.” May our churches seek to love others and reach out to a decaying world while still holding to sound doctrine! May we be people who hold love and truth near to our hearts as we seek to minister to this world!

Prayer: Father God, at times it seems so difficult to hold to the truth of Your Word when the world seems to reject what You have spoken. Although we desire to love people so that more and more may enter into Your Kingdom, we realize how difficult it may be to speak the truth in love. Help us in our weakness. Help us to be people who pursue love while we pursue truth.  Enable us persevere to the end, even when our message goes against popular opinion. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 22

May 27, Saturday

The AMI QT Devotionals from May 22-28 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He is married to Esther.  

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 2:12-17 (ESV):   “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

“‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my fait] even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

Richard Neibuhr, in his book Christ and Culture, outlines the several different approaches people have taken to reconcile how Christians ought to interact with their culture: views range from “culture is evil” to “culture is ultimately good.” It a difficult challenge, as many of these views have been regarded as insufficient; and this has been a hot topic for the church for many generations. We definitely face this same challenge today. In today’s passage, Jesus speaks to the church in Pergamum, which was a place riddled with immorality and idolatry.

The city of Pergamum was one of the religious capitals of the Roman province in Asia, where there were many temples devoted to many different cults—including emperor worship and idol worship. This is the place where “Satan’s throne” dwells. The Christians are doing their best to hold fast to His name—denouncing idol worship—and Jesus commends them for that. Yet there are still some who hold the teaching of Balaam. What is the teaching of Balaam? He was the one who gave the Israelites poor counsel to intermarry with foreign women, which led to idol worship and sexual immorality (cultic prostitution) in their midst. This ultimately led to punishment from God through a plague that came upon their congregation. For the church in Pergamum this was an indictment but probably more of a warning for the church to remain pure. Not only were they to maintain sound doctrine, but they were to be very careful not to be caught up in the adulterous ways of their culture and society. Temptation was all around them.  To the faithful, they were warned to remain pure and steadfast, but for those who had fallen into temptation, they were warned to repent.

In the same way, our culture and society has myriad of things that are not approved by our God, but we are reminded to remain pure and steadfast. Don’t get me wrong, there is much beauty in culture—but there are also many cultural acts and traditions that are twisted and perverse. In Neibuhr’s book, one position is called “Christ the Transformer of Culture,” and I believe this is the position we ought to take. We do not distance ourselves from culture, nor do we passively go along with culture, believing in its beauty; rather, we are to seek to bring Christ into our culture, allowing Him to transform our culture. With that in mind, we must also remember that above all, the battle we fight against isn’t against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). Let’s devote ourselves to prayer and purity, so that we might win the culture for Christ!

Prayer: Father God, it’s so easy to get caught up in the currents of society. We want You to come and transform our culture and our society. We confess that we have not prayed enough for our cities, for our societies, for our culture. But this morning, we invite You to empower us so that we could be used by You as agents to transform our culture. May You be lifted up. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 22

May 26, Friday

The AMI QT Devotionals from May 22-28 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He is married to Esther.  

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Faithfulness in the Midst of Persecution”

Revelation 2:8-11 (ESV)

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander[a] of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

The church in Smyrna was going through tribulation and poverty, yet God recognized how spiritually rich this church was—in fact, no indictment was given towards this church. The Greek word Smyrna can be derived from the Hebrew word marar, which means “to be bitter.” One commentator writes that “the trials in life can make one bitter or better.” Oftentimes, persecution and poverty act as the tipping point for us, causing us to become bitter at God or to better appreciate God. As this church went through trials and tribulations, Jesus’ encouragement to them is this: “Be faithful unto death.”

As a North-American Christian, I have not faced much (if any) persecution for my faith. Although many of us probably feel very sheltered and distant from persecution, it is not a guarantee that we will live the rest of our lives without persecution. In fact, Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 3:12 that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Though we may not experience intense persecution right now, we know that there are many Christians around the world who are suffering persecution for their faith in Jesus. As brothers and sisters, fellow heirs in God’s kingdom, we are called upon to pray for these persecuted brothers and sisters.

There are many who are suffering economically because of their faith, since government restrictions or unfair practices are imposed upon them. Others are suffering socially because of their faith, being ostracized in their communities, shunned, and even ripped apart from their families. Many are suffering physically because of their faith—being beaten, tortured, and even murdered for their faith. Let’s not turn a blind eye to the persecuted church. Let’s pray fervently for God’s intervention and protection, but more importantly, for God to help them to persevere until the end—that they can stay faithful in the midst of the persecution. Let us learn from the persecuted church—how we need to persevere when things get difficult or even monotonous, and also to prepare ourselves for the future persecution.

Prayer: Father God, we lift up the persecuted church this morning, and ask for Your protection for those who are being persecuted for the faith. Not only that, we pray for those who are undergoing continuous persecution, that You would give them the power to remain faithful in the midst of persecution. May they fix their eyes on the crown of life that awaits them! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 21


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Hebrews 11:32-40 (ESV): And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Question to Consider

  1. What does this passage tell us about the people of faith?
  2. How were these men and women able to endure through so much persecution?
  3. Have you prayed for the persecuted church? Spend some time to pray for the persecuted church.

Notes

  1. Hebrews 11 is called the “Hall of Faith,” and these men and women were commended for their faith. This passage shows us is that there were many people throughout the ages who have endured persecution in many various forms for their faith.
  2. Many chose to endure persecution and intense suffering because they believed that there was something greater to preserve than life itself; they believed in God’s promise that there was something greater for them.
  3. Personal reflection.

EVENING REFLECTION

Spend some time praying once again for the persecuted Christians around the world. Many times the only thing we can do is pray, but prayer has great power because we pray to a God who is all-powerful. As you pray for the persecuted church, make a plan to remember them and to routinely pray for them.

May 25, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals from May 22-28 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He is married to Esther.  

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Remembering Our First Love”

Revelation 2:1-7 (ESV)

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’”

John was writing this to the church of Ephesus that was planted out of an awesome fear of the Lord. There was a great display of God’s greatness and power and might, which led to true repentance. Acts 19 tells us that the Holy Spirit moved so mightily in their midst that even handkerchiefs that Paul touched were used for the healing of people—these were people of incredible faith and incredible expectation. The accounts go on that the seven sons of Sceva tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus as some sort of ritual or sorcery. Basically, they were trying to copycat what Paul was doing but to no avail. It says that they were overcome by evil spirits, and most importantly, when people saw this and heard of this occurrence, there was a great fear that fell upon them. People repented to the degree that they came and confessed their sins; not only that, they brought their books of sorcery and occult, and burned it.

They were adamant about keeping sound doctrine, vigorously growing in their knowledge of God and vehemently protecting the faith from heretical teachers who would seek to lead the church astray. However, despite all of the good that was happening in the Ephesian church, the focus of this message actually is on this indictment. One scholar says that this isn’t just a slipping of their first love, but this can be described as a definite and sad departure. Spurgeon, a great English preacher, said this: “A church has no reason for being a church when she has no love within her heart, or when that love grows cold. Lose love, lose all.” He is saying that without love towards God and people, the church has betrayed her purpose and has no reason for existence. Therefore, we must be careful to check our hearts and see whether we have stumbled to a place where we have lost our first love.

I was looking at the weather channel as I was writing this, and an article caught my eye: “9 Abandoned Lighthouses Around the World”—Forgotten Beacons. In the tagline, it said: “They used to guide ships safely into harbor but the lights are now out at these eerie, abandoned and inactive lighthouses.” As lighthouses are meant to guide ships safely into harbors, churches are meant to guide lost souls safely into the arms of our Father. When light is extinguished from a lighthouse, it no longer serves its purpose. Similarly, when love is extinguished from a church, it no longer serves its purpose. And when we lose our love, we lose our purpose.

The sad thing is that today, modern day Ephesus is in Turkey, and in doing a cursory look of Christianity in Turkey, we find that there are very few Christians (relatively-speaking) in this area. Turkey is 98% Muslim. Whereas Christianity was once the official religion in 380, it slowly disintegrated and Islam became the major religion. Currently, there is estimated to be 120,000 Christians and 26,000 Jews residing in Turkey today. When they left their first love, they left their purpose.

Prayer: Father God, remind me again of my first love. When ministry gets tough, when things seem to become routine in my life, I pray that You would remind me of Your sweet presence. When it seems so difficult to continue pressing forward, help me to remember Your love that captivated my heart that very first time, and remind me once again why I am running this race. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 20


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Matthew 22:35-40 (ESV): And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Question to Consider

  1. What is the greatest commandment?
  2. How important is this commandment?
  3. Have you grown weary of loving God and loving others?

Notes

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Love Him with all of your might! We are also to love our neighbor as ourselves.
  2. Not only is this the greatest commandment, but this is the commandment that acts as the cornerstone for all of the Law and the Prophets. All other commandments that were given were with a basis of loving God and loving others.
  3. Personal reflection.

EVENING REFLECTION

Think about what “first love” looks like. One story that comes to mind is the woman with the alabaster jar (Matthew 26:6-13). As you think about the way this woman lavished her love upon Jesus, reflect upon your own life. Is this the way you lovingly approach the Lord?

May 24, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from May 22-28 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He is married to Esther.  

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Holy and Awesome is He”

Revelation 1:9-20 (ESV):

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” 12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see Jesus face to face? There was a popular song in the early 2000’s by MercyMe called “I Can Only Imagine” that poses this very question. What would it be like to see Jesus face to face? What would we do in His presence? In today’s passage, we see that John is terrified and falls at His feet as though dead. This is not a unique reaction, as many others who saw Jesus face to face on this earth fell down in fear and trembling. Take a moment to re-read the description that John gives Jesus. Imagine if you were in John’s shoes: how would you react? I believe the sheer vastness and awesomeness of our Lord would compel us to also fall down in fear.

I’ve often wondered what it means to have an appropriate fear of God. In 1 John 4:18, he mentions that there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. Shouldn’t we cast aside fear, then, when approaching God? Just as there is godly grief and worldly grief, I believe there is godly fear and worldly fear as well. Godly fear is reverence and awe, an understanding of His holiness, justice, and righteousness. Worldly fear is the fear that will be felt by those who have not chosen to repent, as this fear has to do with punishment. As believers, we know that we no longer need to be scared of punishment, because Jesus has taken our punishment on Himself. However, we are still to approach God with this godly fear—reverence and awe as we approach Him in worship.

As for our Sunday corporate worship, do we come to church with that fear of the Lord? Or do we casually roll in late and give Him a time limit for how long we will pay attention? When we pray or attend prayer meetings, do we humbly approach Him with our petitions and our adoration? Or do we make demands and express our disappointments of “unanswered prayer requests”? Proverbs 9:10 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. May we be a people who are full of wisdom, approaching Him with awesome fear and reverence!

Prayer: Father God, fill me with the holy fear that I ought to have while I live my life. As I bring true worship to You, may I do so with the right attitude and the right posture. You are mighty, glorious, and worthy to be praised. Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 19


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Daniel 10:2-9 (ESV): In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris) I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed,[b] and I retained no strength. Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.

Question to Consider

  1. What is the description of the man? How is it similar to John’s vision of Jesus?
  2. What was the reaction of Daniel and the men who were with him?
  3. How do we react when we are in the presence of God?

Notes

  1. The man was clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold. His body was like beryl (a certain emerald-like gem). His face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. This was identical to what John saw (although described slightly differently).
  2. The men went to go hide themselves, even though they didn’t see the vision, but there was a great fear that came upon them. As for Daniel, he fell to the ground face down as one who had lost all strength within him.
  3. Personal reflection.

EVENING REFLECTION

“God is not now any holier than He ever was. And He never was holier than now. He did not get His holiness from anyone nor from anywhere. He is Himself the Holiness. He is the All-Holy, the Holy One; He is holiness itself, beyond the power of thought to grasp or of word to express, beyond the power of all praise.” – A. W. Tozer. What does God’s holiness mean to you?

May 23, Tuesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from May 22-28 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He is married to Esther.  

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Our Eternal God”

Revelation 1:4-8 (ESV):

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

When I was in college, I loved to plan for the future. Rather than just thinking about it, I took it to another level: I made an Excel sheet with major milestones that I would accomplish as I reached certain ages—such as when I would get married and when I would have my first child. Whereas most people try to have a 5-year plan or a 10-year plan, I decided to—just for fun—plan the rest of my life out. I look back and chuckle at my naïve and immature self because I understand now that I can’t plan out my life so neatly— it won’t ever work out the way I plan it. As I came to this realization, another realization came to mind – God has a plan, and His plan always comes to fruition.

I think we often forget that God is eternal, and with His eternal nature, there is an eternal plan. He is not subject to random chance—things don’t happen sporadically without purpose. During the time when apostle John and many Christians were undergoing intense persecution, I’m sure they often wondered, Is there a purpose, is there a reason for all of this suffering? Is there hope for the future?

When we stop to think about the eternal nature of God, what significance should that have in our lives? Personally, I am reminded that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves; and that I am a minor character in a story that is still continuing to unfold in the way that the Author of this story has determined.  It’s easy for us to forget that there is a plan set in motion from the beginning. Sometimes we just feel like life is the way it is because it’s by random chance or by coincidence, thinking that we do things as a reaction to others and circumstances. Yet we must remember that the eternal nature of our God (who is not created but the Creator) means that He has dominion and control over all. There is a God-ordained progression that human history is following: Things aren’t just happening randomly, but things are falling into place. Political leaders are not vying for power and bringing empires into prominence, but God’s plans and purposes are coming into place.

As we read through the book of Revelation, may we take comfort in the fact that our God is an eternal God. Not only has He shown us what has happened from the beginning, but He has told us what will happen in the end. As we go through joyful seasons and painful seasons, we can be rest assured that He has promised a wonderful end. He will make all things new. He will wipe away every tear. He will remove every form of mourning, crying, and pain. Sin and death shall be no more!

Prayer: Father God, though life may seem so volatile at times, thank You that You have reassured us that You are sovereign. We might not understand what You are doing at times, but we trust in your faithfulness and in your goodness. Thank you that you have already promised that you will be making all things new. Thank you for the hope that we have in you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 18


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Job 38:4-7 (ESV): Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
**For better context, read Job 38-41

Question to Consider

  1. What is the context of this passage?
  2. How does God choose to respond to Job?
  3. What is your response as you think of God’s eternal nature?

Notes

  1. Job has been going through intense suffering—losing all of his wealth, his relationships, and his health. He questions why God allows this evil to happen in his life, but God is silent for most of this book, until the very end when He responds to Job.
  2. God never answers why all of this happened has to Job, but He does remind Job that He is eternal and His ways are higher than Job’s ways, His thoughts are higher than Job’s thoughts. He doesn’t explain Himself, but rather points Job to the understanding of God’s eternal nature.
  3. Personal reflection.

EVENING REFLECTION

When was the last time you thought about how your life fits into God’s plan, rather than how your life fits into your own plans? Tonight, spend some time asking God how you are to fit into His eternal plan.

May 22, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from May 22-28 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He is married to Esther.  

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Listen and Obey”

Revelation 1:1-3 (ESV)

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

As a teenager, I had a bad habit of leaving the lights on when I left a room—and my mom would constantly remind me of this. I certainly heard her say it—in fact, I can still hear it in the back of my head—and definitely understood why it was important to do so. But for some reason, it was in one ear and out the other, and I continued to forget to turn the lights off. In our passage today, John is writing this letter to the seven churches in Asia with specific instructions from the Lord. He starts out by reminding them that it’s not only important to hear these instructions, but to keep them. On a larger scale, we also must be reminded that it’s not only important to hear God’s Word, but also to earnestly obey what He has commanded us.

For the Jewish mind, there is no differentiation between listening and obeying. The Hebrew word Shema means to listen, but it could also mean to obey. However, as the Jews were scattered in the Greco-Roman world, they began to further divorce the abstract from the practical. The conceptual was split from day-to-day living so that they could mentally assent to something and yet disobey. Isn’t that why James has to remind us that faith without works is dead? If we’re honest, we can often read the Bible and hear God’s word, but we don’t really listen; we don’t obey—in fact, it has become natural for us to do so. We can agree that we shouldn’t gossip or slander, yet we still talk about others behind their back. We can believe that sharing the gospel is important, but we just don’t feel like doing it. We all struggle with this, and it’s not a problem that will disappear, but I believe that we can take steps towards bringing the abstract and reality closer together. We can choose to listen and obey, and experience the blessings God has for us. Furthermore, the phrase “The time is near” or “The Day of the Lord is near” is used both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is a well-known phrase that is used to command obedience from the listeners and to awaken those who were slumbering. John must have really wanted his listeners to pay heed to the Word of God!

Today, we are reminded that we shouldn’t just hear, but we need to keep what is written in it as well. Let’s ask ourselves this: How do we approach the Word of God? Do we read it and keep what is written? Let’s remember that the time is near, and so we should not only hear the word of God but seek earnestly to obey what is written in it.

** https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KQLOuIKaRA << Helpful word study on “Shema”

Prayer: Father God, help me to not only hear Your word but also to obey them. Soften my heart so that my life is daily renewed by Your very word. I desire to live a blessed life, walking in faith as Your word guides me. Help me in my weakness. In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 17


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read James 1:22-25 (ESV): But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Question to Consider

  1. What does James compare a person who hears the word only but does not do it?
  2. Why does James use the mirror and the law of God interchangeably in this passage?
  3. What is one thing that you have recently heard and been convicted of but have not yet done anything about it?

Notes

  1. He compares it to a person who looks intently into a mirror and notices his or her unkemptness but walks away forgetting and doing nothing about it.
  2. Simply put, the Word of God is a mirror to our soul. Through the word, we see all of the imperfections and the ways we fall short of the glory of God. We see our true self as we look into the Word of God.
  3. Personal reflection.

EVENING REFLECTION

In a society that places a high premium on knowledge and intellectual pursuits, perhaps we have spent too much of our energy in trying to know more and hear more. We can spend so much time reading different articles and listening to different sermons, but maybe we need to spend more time just being obedient in the simple things. Write down a few things that you want to be obedient in and start there.