January 18, Saturday

Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Charles Choe of Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was originally posted on December 6, 2014.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend 

“A Mark of What’s Really Going on in our Hearts”

Proverbs 15:30-33

“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones. 31 The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. 32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. 33 The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”

Solomon made many keen observations about life. One of my favorites is found in Proverbs 15:30 in which the king says those who have a heart that rejoices will have light in their eyes, a twinkle in their eye, if you will. That’s what joy does: giving us a spark or a glow about us.  In a world full of unhappy people, this joyous disposition in the believers can truly set them apart for Christ.

While the Bible says we are not to judge a person according to appearance (Jn. 7:24), it is also true that what’s in the soul of a person is often reflected in his countenance. If we are always frowning or always looking sad, it may be an indication of what’s going on in our hearts. And if we are quick to smiling and have serenity about our lives, that, too, can be a mark of what’s going on in our hearts. 

Now, one of the ways we learn to gain this disposition of joy is through a reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord (verse 33). When we approach God with a humble attitude, God in turn will honor us for it. There will be a sense of his overwhelming grace and love in any situation we may find ourselves. When we strive to have a proper attitude of holy fear before God, we will find ourselves receiving God’s favor and grace. When His favor is on us, His wisdom will be evident in our lives. People will know God’s favor is on us because they will feel blessed in our presence. They will find themselves wanting to be joyful along with us. This is the twinkle to which the Bible speaks of. 

So be joyous today, knowing that God knows and cares about you.

Bible Reading for Today: John 18-19

January 17, Friday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Cami King, was originally posted on April 1, 2014.  Cami now serves as a staff at Remnant Church in Manhattan.

 

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“Are You Sent by God?”

Galatians 1:1-2 

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia.

One of my favorite parts of Paul’s letters is always the greeting. Unlike the salutations we are used to seeing when we receive a letter, or more likely an email, Paul’s opening lines pack a pretty big theological punch and often set the tone for what is to come in the rest of the letter. They are usually strategic.

In this letter to the church in Galatia, Paul introduces himself as an apostle. We may take this title for granted because we know all about the apostles… those big wigs in the New Testament who wrote the Bible and started churches, right? Well, apostle means “one who is sent,” and here Paul’s primary identification is that of one who is on a mission (sent by someone to accomplish something). 

Not only this, but Paul takes time to explain the source of his calling: Jesus Christ. More importantly, he is clear about what the source of his mission is not. It’s not from men – from himself, his parents, his peers, society. It’s not from human agency – his skill sets, a chance job opening, popularity or favor. He realizes that he is where he is and does what he does because of the sovereign will of God – because God has Kingdom work for him to do there. 

What about you? We are all on mission with God, to make disciples and share the love of Christ. We are where we are and do what we do because God has Kingdom work for us to do there.  How is God calling you to be on mission with Him today? Though we are obviously not called to be an apostle as Paul was, we are all on mission. So let’s get going!

Prayer: Sovereign God, help me to remember that I am where I am and that I do what I do because of Your sovereign plan. Open my eyes to see what You’re up to. Help me to partner with You in the Kingdom work You have for me to do today. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: John 17


Lunch Break Study

Read Ephesians 2:1-10: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Questions to Consider

  1. What do we learn about our lives apart from Christ?
  2. What motivated God to intervene in our broken situation? 
  3. What do we learn from verse 10 about our lives in Christ?

Notes

  1. We follow the way of the world and even the way of Satan, indulging in the desires of our body and minds. Although we think we’re living, we’re really “dead” in our lives of sin.  
  2. God was motivated by his own nature – being full of grace and mercy – along with his immense love for each of us. 
  3. In Christ, we are made new by God (his “workmanship”) and given good works to do for His Kingdom. 

Evening Reflection

I listened to a sermon recently where the pastor asked, “What have you done this week that will last for eternity?” How did you partner with God in his Kingdom work today? Is your primary identification as one who is on mission with Christ? Pray and ask God to help you orient your life in this way.

January 16, Thursday

Today’s devotional, prepared by Pastor Jason Sato, was originally posted on December 14, 2013.  He and his wife Jessica (along with their three young children) recently moved to Japan to serve as missionaries. 

 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The Secret to Having a Blessed Family”

Psalm 128:1-6

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! 2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. 4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. 5 The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! 6 May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!

Much of our striving is for the purpose of building a life of blessing for our families.  We pursue academic and professional advancement to guarantee a certain kind of material future.  We employ the latest psychological techniques and attend relationship seminars in the hopes of producing idyllic children and marriages.  In Psalm 128, the Psalmist simplifies this very complex and very important pursuit.  

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord.  

The Psalmist even clarifies for us what fear entails—walking in His ways.  Our families will never be more blessed than when we completely and willingly trust and obey God.  

When we prioritize anything—money, psychological well-being, extracurricular activities, even conflict free relationships in the home—over complete obedience to God, we subtly imply that true joy and security are found in something other than Him.  In doing so, we deprive our families of His blessings and of His presence that leads to true life.

This morning, bless your family and those whom you love by committing yourself to fearing the Lord and walking in His ways today.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You are generous with Your blessings to me and to my family.  I thank You that You do not pit my love for them against my love for You, but they are blessed when I love You more than anyone or anything.  May my household be united in our worship of Your Son. May we enjoy life, joy, and Your very presence as we abandon all that the world offers us for You.  In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 16


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 5:3-12: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Questions to Consider

  1. According to Jesus, who is blessed?
  2. According to Jesus, what are blessings?
  3. Where is our reward?

Notes

  1. The poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
  2. The kingdom of heaven, comfort, inheriting the earth, satisfaction, mercy, seeing God, and being called sons of God.
  3. In heaven.

Evening Reflection

Are you blessed?  Is your family blessed? The Lord cares for you! Keep those thoughts in mind as you turn in for the night.

January 15, Wednesday

Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Barry Kang of Symphony Church in Boston, was originally posted on April 3, 2013.

 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Glorifying God through our Skills”

Psalm 33:1-3 (NIV 1984)

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. 2 Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.  3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. 

The Hebrew expression translated here as “play skillfully” literally means to “do well in playing music.”  Psalm 33:1-3 reminds us that the gifts that God has given us should be used for His glory (literally for His “praise”).  If we have musical talents, then we should learn to “play skillfully” for the Lord. Although this may take years of diligent practice, the musicians are encouraged to work hard on developing their skills and to express their praise “with joy.”  

We can extend the same principle to other areas in which we have received talents from God, such as our professions, careers, passions, or even hobbies. Metaphorically speaking, all of us should learn to “play skillfully” for His glory in these areas as well.  

In addition, we should not forget about joy.  As we serve the Lord with excellence, let us rejoice in being able to use what God has given us for His pleasure and glory.

So, what talents and abilities will you be using today?  How can they be used to give God glory? Are there talents that you have not been developing or using?  God has given them to you for a reason. Ask God for ways to use them to give Him praise. 

Prayer: Father, I thank You that I am “wonderfully and fearfully made.”  This day, help me not only to seek to give You praise with my lips but also with every gift that You have given to me.  In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 15


Lunch Break Study

Read Exodus 33:1-11 (NIV 1984): Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. 6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you: 7 the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— 8 the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, 9 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand— 10 and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.” 

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the context of this passage (see chapter 25:8-9)?
  2. What is the significance of God giving Bezalel the Holy Spirit?
  3. What do you think the role of the Holy Spirit is in our worship (c.f. John 4:23-24)?

Note

  1. God is giving detailed instructions to Moses about how to build the tabernacle, that is, the location where the Israelites are to experience God’s presence and to render unto Him the worship due to him.  Bezalel is chosen as the main craftsman to furnish the tabernacle.    
  2. It seems odd that craftsmen need to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to do their work.   However, Exodus 33 indicates that the Holy Spirit is necessary for anyone who seeks to do the work of God, no matter how ordinary the work may appear to the human eyes.
  3. Authentic worship can only happen when we are right with God at the spiritual level (since God is spirit).  For this to happen, our sins must first be rectified before the Lord. This requires the work of the Holy Spirit because he comes to convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness (Jn. 16:8).  In light of the morning devotion, we need the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to properly give glory to God. 

Evening Reflection

Every gift/ability given to us by God is to be used for His glory.  Put differently, a proper usage of the gifts can enable us to render unto God the worship that would please Him, no matter how prosaic this may appear to some.  How does this happen?  

The Holy Spirit will guide, teach, and empower us into the right way of giving all the glory to God; therefore, let us ask for the filling of the Holy Spirit once again!

Reflect on the ways you used your gifts today.   How was your heart and attitude as you used them?  Were you able to use God’s gifts to give Him glory?  Journal about how God may be asking you to use your gifts.

January 14, Tuesday

Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was originally posted on February 18, 2013.

 

Devotional Thought for This Morning 

“Being Passionate for Our Lord and His Truth”

Psalms 18:1-3

I love you, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. 

Have you ever seen really passionate singers who are all in while belting out their tunes on stage? 

Sorry, I don’t know any new singers, but I can think of a few back in the days: Freddie Mercury (of Queens) or Janis Joplin. Suffice it to say, their music didn’t emerge out of vacuum: something deep within was driving them. 

Now, consider todays’ psalm: Can a psalm like this, so passionate and full of pathos, be produced in a vacuum?  Not likely! A famous jazz musician (not a believer), attending a church service for the first time in a long while, wanted to walk out while the worship team was playing.  His reasoning: The members of the worship team were playing music they didn’t believe in! Isn’t it ironic? Mercury and Joplin sang passionately about things as if they were true but, ultimately, weren’t, while these Christian musicians were singing about the truth with neither passion nor life. You can be sure that David, who wrote this psalm after being delivered from the hand of Saul, believed every word of it and sang it with passion.   

Yes, we need to be grounded in the doctrines of our faith, so that, among other reasons, they could safeguard our experience with God but not replace it. When we experience God and His merciful deliverance in our daily lives, we too can speak to one another with psalms and spiritual songs.  But are we at least asking God to deliver us from our woes? What are some things that are heavy on your mind right now?  Would you give them to the LORD and let Him handle them?

Prayer: Dear LORD, my finite words fail to adequately capture Your goodness and kindness towards me in every moment of my life.  Thank You, for You are utterly faithful and amazingly good to me even though I continue to fail You time in and time out.  I praise You God; I love You LORD; I worship You  

Bible Reading for Today: John 14


Lunch Break Study

Read 2 Timothy 4:16-18: At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Questions to Consider

  1. Paul wrote this while locked up in a dreary Roman dungeon. In what sense did he experience God there (2 Tim. 4:16-8)?
  2. How can we hear God, thereby experiencing Him, and be sure that it’s truly God (Rom. 8:16; Ps. 37:7; Jn. 10:27, Acts 17:11)?
  3. Paul never got out of that dungeon; he was later executed. What was his final experience with God (2 Tim. 1:12, 4:18)?

Notes

  1. I don’t think Paul meant that Jesus literally appeared to him and stood by him; rather, he sensed a palpable presence of Christ inwardly.  He might have recalled at that moment the Scripture or encouraging words to sense that he wasn’t alone. 
  2. Paul stated that the Holy Spirit in us testifies with our spirit, which means that some thoughts or images that come to our minds are not from us but from the Spirit.  To hear anything clearly, we need to lower the level of noise and be quiet, literally.  So we need to develop the discipline of being quiet before God.  The way to discern whether what we heard is from the Spirit or not is to weigh it (1 Cor. 14:29) by Scripture (like what the Bereans did).  Thus, we need to read and study the Bible in order to do so.  If what we heard falls within the parameters of Scriptural teaching, we should consider it as having come from the Spirit. The next step is to put it into practice, i.e., obedience. 
  3. His final experience, as he was being executed, was the faithfulness of God. He said, “I know whom I have believed, and convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (i.e., his exit from this world).

Evening Reflection

Before turning in for the night, meditate for a moment Ps. 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”  What thoughts came to your mind? Ultimately, God wants us to know that He is sovereign and that we can trust Him.  So, did you experience God today? It doesn’t have to be something big. It could be a thought that came to your mind.  Write about it.

January 13, Monday

Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Peter Yoon of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, was originally posted on May 26, 2014.

 

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“God’s Grace: Don’t Abuse It”

Jude 1:3-4 

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. 4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Churches are filled with many young impressionable believers that can make discipleship exciting. However, at times, it’s unfortunate when someone in the church twists God’s grace into a license to sin. It is true that no person is required to observe the OT Law as a means for salvation; the gospel of Jesus Christ stipulates that eternal life is absolutely a free gift, meaning no church attendance or offering money is at all required for salvation. 

This is because when Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled the OT Law (Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:23-25). However, the unbiblical conclusion is that there’s nothing that God expects of Christians in terms of a disciplined life in God’s Spirit; alarmedly, from that, some have said, “If I’m saved by grace and all of my sins, past, present, and future, are forgiven, why not sin all I want?” 

Do you at times hold to that line of thinking? After many failed attempts to live a holy life, we develop a calloused “so-what” attitude towards sin.  However, that thinking is not the fruit of a genuine relationship with God. God’s desire is that we become increasingly more like His Son. Though we can’t do it on our own, God’s grace and His Spirit helps us in our weaknesses as we strive towards holiness. Since God has given us His precious gift of salvation through Jesus, our response is to obey Him out of love and gratitude for what He has done for us (Rom. 12:1-2).  

Are there areas in your life where you are twisting the idea of God’s grace?  If so, I advise you to stop going down that road—believe me, nothing good will come out of it—nothing!  Instead, turn to the Lord and begin living a life that is different from the ways of the world. 

Prayer: God, your grace is truly precious. Thank You that You required nothing from me in receiving Your salvation in Christ. But now that I’ve been saved, teach me daily to give You everything in living for your purposes. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 13


Lunch Break Study  

Read Matt. 13:24-30; 36-43: Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” 36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

Questions to Consider

  1. At the end of the age, all of the weeds will be pulled up and burned in the fire. However, at    ……………….   this present age, what does Jesus say about the weeds? 
  2. Why does owner allow the weeds to remain along with the wheat?
  3. This parable does not teach toleration of illegitimate doctrines in the church.  However, at the present age, the church will be faced with ungodly people who attempt to pervert God’s grace. How can you keep yourself from being deceived by ungodly thinking? 

Notes

  1. Jesus explains that God tolerates the wicked in the present for the sake of his elect, but will publicly distinguish between the two in the day when the secrets of the kingdom are revealed. God endures the wicked in the present to provide all those who will receive him time to become his followers (Rom. 9:22-24; 2 Pet. 3:9, 15).
  2. Jesus’ primary point is the coexistence of kingdom people with the world’s people in this age. The point here is NOT that we should abandon our efforts to keep the church pure (18:7-14, 21-35); rather, the kingdom remains obscure in the present world and only the final day will bring God’s true children into their vindicated glory and banish the wicked from among them.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Reflect on this prayer before turning in for the night: 

“Lord, I confess that in my sinfulness, I can be great at selective hearing when it comes to the Word of God. Help me to humble myself before the entire counsel of Scripture. Empower me with Your Spirit to agree with Your Word in the areas that are difficult for me to obey. Amen.”

January 12, Sunday

Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, first posted on September 16, 2013, is written by a former staff at an AMI church. 

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Reconsidering the Love of God”

Psalm 89:1-4

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. 2 For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.” 3 You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: 4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah

Repeated throughout Scripture is the phrase “the steadfast love of the Lord.” And here, the psalmist describes God’s love as being consistent and persistent.  Upon thinking about God’s immutability (unchanging nature), we are awed by the realization that His love will never change no matter how badly we act from time to time.  

How wonderful indeed is His steadfast love for the undeserved!  This is love that is grounded and rooted in the very nature of who God is!  Thus, He refrained from breaking his covenant with David in spite of his offspring’s (Israel) relentless disobedience.  In the end, this is the unconditional love that resulted in the substitutionary death of His Son that brings us life. 

This Psalm encourages us to look at love from a new perspective, for all we are too familiar with the conditional love that the world gives us as well as the love we give the world. We are used to understanding love as a temporary emotion or feeling that is only secure if situations or circumstances don’t change. Often times, love seems to be a precursor to disappointment. Yet here, the psalmist declares that the love of God is praiseworthy because this love is tied to the promise of God, the covenant of God, the nature of God, and the heart of God. This is a secure and constant love that doesn’t change, despite of our failings, in which we can find hope. 

This morning, let’s reflect upon the love of God which is so strong and secure. Let us praise God for He loves us so steadfastly.

Prayer: Dear God, we love You.  We adore You. We exalt You.  We desire You. There is no one in this universe who is even remotely equal to You.  You stand alone apart from all your creations; yet, we are so grateful that You are in our midst, loving us and caring for us.  Thank You. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: John 14