March 17, Thursday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was first posted on October 27, 2015.  Charles is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“The First Thing Before Doing Anything”

 Nehemiah 1:5-11

“Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.”

The other day, I found myself putting together an IKEA bookshelf. I confess that assembling furniture is not something I enjoy—at all. It’s a bit of an overstatement, but it’s the biggest waste of time known to humanity. Why such hatred? The combination of my impatient temperament and having to patiently do each step doesn’t seem to work for me. On more than one occasion, I have had to disassemble furniture pieces I was assembling, because I either missed a step or did not do them in the right order. 

Here we find Nehemiah understanding this principle. When Nehemiah was frustrated with the temple walls not being erected in Jerusalem, Nehemiah didn’t make it a point to blame others or start making plans to rectify the situation. Instead, he simply went to God first. 

Too often we see prayer as a last resort rather than as our first thought. Prayer is usually something we do at the end, and after having tried everything else we say, “Oh well, I guess all we can do now is pray!” And at times, many of us are guilty of “praying on the fly”—that is, asking God what to do while we’re in the process of doing it. Even worse, most of us only start praying when we’ve really gotten ourselves into a jam. Then we start shouting, “Help me!” without really acknowledging that seeking God’s will would have prevented us from getting into the mess in the first place!

When we find ourselves in one of life’s many messes (and we will), and when the walls have fallen down on us, let’s take the first moments to respond with prayer. When we feel discouraged, when we feel like it’s better to isolate ourselves, or it would feel good to blame others, just stop and pray. We will see that in that pause, in that prayer, God will show us how to respond in a way that is most consistent with values of the Kingdom. Nehemiah chose to pray first; and when we do the same, God will show us the next steps to take.

Prayer: Lord, give me wisdom to seek You first and not try to do things by my own strength.  Thank You that You are a God who generously gives wisdom to those who ask. I praise You and worship you for being a loving Father.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Zephaniah 1

Lunch Break Study

Read James 1:5: But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 

Questions to Consider 

1. If we are lacking wisdom, where can we get it?  

2. When we ask for God to give wisdom, how does He give it to us? 

3. What are some legalistic tendencies you may have that you use to judge others?  


1. From God through prayer. (Read about wisdom’s call in Proverbs 8.)

2. God gives it to us generously and without reproach.

3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

“The more you pray, the less you’ll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You’ll feel more patient and less pressured.” – Rick Warren