August 19, Saturday

Today’s AMI Devotional is written by Mei Lan Thallman who serves at Grace Covenant Church, Philadelphia. Her husband Pastor Kirt and Mei Lan are proud parents of Nate (14) and Naomi (12).

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Bucking NO More

Ephesians 5:21-33 (NIV)

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Bucking Horse Summer is a prime time for weddings. This year we’ve received six wedding invitations and have been to three already. Over six years of shepherding the young adult congregation at GCC, we have walked many dating couples through dating and premarital counseling, and have ultimately been a part of their wedding date.I always cry tears of joy and celebration at these weddings, recalling each couples’ unique struggles and journeys that have brought them to this sacred moment of making a lifelong commitment to each other as husband and wife.

My husband and I celebrated our 21st year anniversary this June. Floods of memories brought me back to that special day, but the one that stood out the most to me was God’s transforming power in my life as a bride. The pastor who married us in Taiwan knew both of us very well—he was our pastor, Kirt’s mentor as a seminary intern, and my boss (I served two years under him as church secretary). In our marriage sermon, he described me as a bucking horse whose natural tendency is to buck and kick at my husband’s attempt to lead me. As funny as I must admit this illustration was, our pastor spoke out of love, wisdom and prophetic insight. For many years in my marriage I unwisely resisted, challenged and rebelled against my husband’s leadership, rather than cooperate with his love for me to lead us before the Lord.

By God’s unrelenting grace and love, and much credit to my husband’s persevering trust and commitment to Christ, they never gave up on me nor did they allow me to stay in my dysfunctional and destructive old self, thought and behavior patterns. They stood by my side through my darkest moments and gave me the courage to face and overcome past brokenness. Together they loved me to love life abundantly and encouraged me continually to becoming the woman God created me to be. I am far from reaching perfection, but I am proud to testify before the world that my God is not through with me yet. I am His work in progress, until I meet him in eternity. Whether you are single or married, male or female, Jesus is your beloved and he is committed 100% to your sanctification of becoming his radiant bride. Please don’t buck his work by resisting his lordship. Surrender to his love and care for you. He is your trustworthy bridegroom.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for being our Bridegroom by your unrelenting sacrifice on our behalf; for teaching us how to love and submit by your example to the Father; and for showing us that true freedom and ultimate fulfillment is found under your lordship, protection, provision and unchanging truth. Help us to faithfully cooperate with your sanctifying work in our lives as your radiant bride to the world around us.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 6-7

August 18, Friday

Today’s AMI Devotional is written by Pastor Joshua Kim who serves at the Church of Southland.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

John 15: 4-6
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

In an effort to live a healthier lifestyle, Christina and I recently subscribed to Blue Apron—a meal delivery service that provides all the ingredients you need to make several meals throughout the week, all shipped in this refrigerated box. The only issue is figuring out a way to preserve your ingredients, the trickiest ingredient in my recent order being basil. You can’t just stick basil in the fridge. What I learned online is that you have to put the stem of the basil leaves in a cup of water, cover the top with a plastic bag to sustain it. But even with this type of complex storage method, we noticed that some of the leaves started to brown before we could use it.

Today’s passage is probably familiar to many of us. It is a source of encouragement to those who feel powerless; it is a call to intimacy, clinging to the true Vine of our lives, the source of everlasting spring of life. But despite our familiarity with the passage, I wonder if we miss out on the full weightiness of Jesus’ words.

I think part of the reason for that is because when Jesus says apart from Me you can do nothing, we see in this world and even in our own lives plenty of time where we are not only able but able to do a lot and succeed in life apart from Christ. It doesn’t appear to us that we really can’t do anything apart from Christ.

But what does it mean to live by faith? Hebrews 11 teaches us that faith is believing in the things that we hope for and certain of what we do not see. In other words, if we are to live by faith, we not only trust and hope for the positive things that Jesus promises us, but we also have to seriously heed the warnings as well. Often we focus on the promises of blessing but can soften the warnings of disobedience. And here, Jesus teaches us that a life lived apart from Him equates to nothing: no fruit. Just like the basil in my Blue Apron kit, it looks as if it is being sustained, but unless it is still attached to the vine, it ultimately shrivels up and becomes unusable.

Brothers and sisters, we must take Jesus’ words seriously: apart from Me you can do nothing. This means that whatever we think we have accomplished on our own means nothing in eternity. And if we do not bear fruit by being attached to the true Vine, then we will be cut off and cast into the fire. May we be a people whose primary concern of life be our intimate love relationship with the true Vine.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for giving people like us—worthless, sinful people—an opportunity to be grafted into Your Vine so that we may bear fruit. Thank You for the opportunity to find true meaning in life. Forgive us for softening Your words; may we not only believe in faith the promise of fruit but heed the warning of a life apart from You. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 5


Lunch Break Study

Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-10: For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on[a] we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Questions to Consider

  1. What comes to mind when you consider the difference between at tent and a house? How does this help you to understand what Paul is talking about in verse 1-5?
  2. In verses 6-10, Paul discusses what it’s like to live in the body versus what it will be like to be with the Lord. What will not change in terms of the purpose of our lives according to Paul?
  3. Upon reflection and study of this passage, what does it mean for you to live by faith and not by sight?

Notes

  1. When you consider a tent, you know that it is only a temporary shelter, and thus, the discomforts of a tent is more manageable because you know it is only temporary. Versus a house, which signifies a permanence, comfort, a place of belonging. Paul is contrasting the necessary yet temporary part of our life here on earth. But what allows us to always be of good courage (v.6) is that we know it is only temporary. God has promised us an eternal, heavenly dwelling.
  2. There is a sense of incompleteness. I don’t think Paul is saying that when we are in the body, we are cut off from God; the rest of scripture teaches us the opposite. But there is a sense where we have yet to experience while we are in the body, the fullness of God. In other words, there is more we can expect in faith. Of course the preference is that we are with the Lord, but we also trust that God has a perfect timing for this. No matter what condition we are in, Paul teaches us that our aim, our purpose in life is to please the Lord. In other words, our life is meant to be in relation with God, whether here on earth or in heaven.
  3. Personal response. Try to be specific – in what areas of your life are you relying more on what you see than what our faith testifies.

Evening Reflection

One of the greatest challenges of walking by faith and not by sight is that what we see is unavoidable—it’s right there in front of us. This is why prayer is so important. Prayer is how we see a perspective greater than our own. As you prepare for the end of your day, spend some time with the Lord and commit a specific way of how you will start the next day that will help you to walk by faith. Ask for His help to fight the temptation of relying on our own sight.

August 17, Thursday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by Pastor Shan Gian (Fenway Site Pastor, Symphony Church).

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“The Great Staircase”

Psalm 61:1-3

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 2 from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 3 for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

I’m typically not one to enjoy touristy sites, but a few years ago I had the privilege of going with a group of people to the Great Wall of China. It was a beautiful sight; we not only got to see the wall up close and personal, but we got to walk on the surface itself and climb up to the highest point.

It was a great experience, but what we visited that day was not a great wall, but rather (as Pastor Young puts it) “The Great Staircase”. To reach the highest point, we must have climbed something to the tune of 40 flights of stairs. It was physically exhausting.

But what made this trip up the Great Stairs of China especially painful was that as we went up the stairs, we could see what we thought was the summit of the Wall. So even though we were getting tired, in our minds, we kept thinking, “At least we just have to get to that part.” But when we got to “the top”, we discovered the stairs didn’t end there; there was another long stretch of stairs to go until we reached the actual summit. So again, we’d push ourselves to get the “real” summit, but when we got there, that wasn’t it! Yet another long stretch to go. We repeated this at least 5 times over. Get to the top, it’s not the top. Keep going. Get to the top, bamboozled again. Keep going. We were so close to giving up not just because we were physically tired but because our spirits were constantly being crushed.

When David says in Psalm 61, “Lead to the rock that is higher than I,” I think he might have understood my Great Wall experience. In his life and in our lives, we seek to ascend different summits: the summit of education, the summit of career, the summit of material wealth, the summit of relationships, etc. But every time we reach one of these summits, we discover that it’s not the top, and then we have to keep going to the next summit. This happens over and over again because any summit we can reach is never high enough, and the results are just like my Great Wall experience: tiring and spirit-crushing.

I think David asks God to lead him to a rock that was higher than himself, because he had experienced the same letdown of reaching his own summits and heights on his own power. David knew that only God could take him to a place where he would be secure. He knew that only God could lead him to the ultimate summit.

As we reflect on these words from David, consider what summits we’ve been trying to reach in our own lives. Let us lay down those pursuits that tire us and crush our spirits and ask God to lead us to the rock that is higher than us.

Prayer: Jesus, I pray that you will lead me to places where only you can take me. I lay down my own pursuits and ambitions and recognize that I will only find joy and contentment with you. Lead me to you, Lord. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 4


Lunch Break Study

Read Mark 10:17-22: And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Questions to Consider

  1. What summits had this man already ascended?
  2. Why does Jesus tell him to sell all that he had and give to the poor?
  3. How do we see the grace of Jesus in this passage? How can we experience that grace in our own failures?

Notes

  1. This “rich young ruler” should be commended in a few ways. He (at least in his own view) lived a very moral life in keeping all of these commandments. Also, in going to Jesus, he was seeking eternal life. Finally, in the eyes of the world at least, he was commendable in that he had great wealth.
  2. Jesus’ concern for this man was not that he lacked compassion for the poor, but rather it was his attachment to his possessions. This young man had achieved great things in many respects, but in reaching his summit of wealth, he was not willing to let it go in order to reach higher heights and the far greater riches of the treasures in heaven.
  3. It says in verse 21 that Jesus looked at this young man and loved him. As we study this passage, we notice that this young man is a classic example of someone we all might dislike because he was young, proud and rich. But Jesus, in spite of knowing all of this young man’s flaws and sins, looks at him with eyes of love and grace. We are not very different from this rich man, and like him we are often unwilling to lay down our pride or achievements or riches; but Jesus looks at us with the same eyes of love and grace. In our own failures, all we need to do is to seek the love and grace that Jesus reserves for us.

Evening Reflection

Do you feel worn out and tired by life? Do you feel like you have striven to succeed but getting nowhere? Perhaps, you’ve been reaching for heights that pale in comparison to the rock that God wants to lead you to. Tonight, surrender your life and heart to God, and ask for Him to lead you.

August 16, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals for August 14-16 are provided by Joanna Tzen, who graduated from U. Penn and currently works in Philadelphia.  Her husband Paul and Joanna attend and serve at Grace Covenant Church.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Murphy Was Wrong!

Genesis 41:14

Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once, and he was quickly brought from the prison. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he went in and stood before Pharaoh. 15 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.”16 “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”

You might have already heard of Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” While the so-called law doesn’t exactly come from the Bible, it appears that Murphy wasn’t completely off base when we examine the life of Joseph. As if being sold into slavery by his own brothers wasn’t bad enough, Joseph was thrown into jail on false charges as a result of his faithfulness to God at Potiphar’s house. There, after meeting two prisoners who had served as Pharaoh’s chief baker and cupbearer, Joseph was able to interpret their dreams. He hoped he would be remembered by the cupbearer whose dream of freedom he had interpreted correctly, but “the chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him” (Gn. 40:23). Joseph waited two more years before being remembered and then summoned to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. Always spiritually alert no matter what the circumstances, Joseph attributes his gifting to God. And this is where Joseph’s life parts company with Murphy’s Law: after interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, he is lauded for his wisdom and appointed second in command of Egypt.

Even though we know Joseph’s happy ending, we can’t help but wonder what he thought as each day passed. As doubts crept into Joseph’s mind, he returned to the promises of God as his only hope. It was not the promise that he would one day rule over others as his dream predicted, but he clung to the hope of a faithful and trustworthy God. In fact, it appears that Joseph had long forgotten the dream, for it was when he saw his brothers for the first time in over 20 years that “he remembered his dreams about them” (Gn. 42:8).

What waiting period do you find yourself in today? Let’s return the promises of God when we are waiting and tempted to lose hope. As our hope is restored, we find strength to be faithful in our present circumstances. God continuously shapes and molds our character in the seasons of waiting. We saw how God used that waiting period to shape Joseph from a proud and impetuous boy, to a wise and humble man. When Joseph rose to power, he was no longer proud; but his faith was solidly founded on the One who had not failed him.

Prayer: God, I confess that I feel weak and hopeless in my season of waiting. Lift my eyes above the mountains to the One who can move them. Thank you for the unconditional love demonstrated on the cross. Remind me that You are working in my time of waiting.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Genesis 21:1: The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. 3 And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4 Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5 Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.Read Genesis 21:1: The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. 3 And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4 Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5 Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.

Questions to Consider

  1. Who kept his word?
  2. Who decreed the timing of Isaac’s birth?
  3. What can we learn about our own character and God’s character during our waiting?

Notes

  1. The Lord kept His word, and did exactly what He promised in bringing Abraham and Sarah a child.
  2. Verse 2 says Isaac’s birth happened at just the time God said it would.
  3. 25 years had passed between God’s promise to Abraham in Gen 12 to Isaac’s birth in  Genesis 21. God was refining Abraham’s character in that time, as had always trusted in his  own schemes rather than in God’s promises. Abraham learned that God is trustworthy and His way is better than what we have planned in our own efforts.

Evening Reflection

Lord, remind me of what You are doing in my waiting season. You are refining my faith and shaping my character to reflect Christ. Remind me that waiting is not purposeless, and that there is joy coming in the end. Jesus’ death and resurrection shows me that You are for me and with me. Amen.

August 15, Tuesday

The AMI QT Devotionals for August 14-16 are provided by Joanna Tzen, who graduated from U. Penn and currently works in Philadelphia.  Her husband Paul and Joanna attend and serve at Grace Covenant Church.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Without Holiness, No One will See the Lord” (Heb. 12:14) in Us

Genesis 39:2

The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.

In continuing the story of Joseph, we see that after his brothers sell him into slavery, Potiphar’s household purchases him from the slavers. It must have been a moment of great despair for Joseph. Nevertheless, before the Lord began to bestow favor and success upon him in Potiphar’s home, there is little doubt that Joseph himself sought the Lord in his despair. Which came first? David, when facing a similar situation of hopelessness, said, “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all fears” (Ps. 34:4). David didn’t solve his problems with his own strength; neither did Joseph, whose help came from the Lord (Ps. 121:2). Subsequently, his faith became evident to Potiphar who saw that Joseph was not like other slaves; that is to say, Joseph’s faith was expressed not only through his words but also by his work ethic and character-driven conduct. So impressed was Potiphar that he “left in Joseph’s care everything he had” (Gn. 39:6).

What can we learn from this? First, our faithfulness to the Lord is not generated by ourselves, for Joseph was faithful because he understood that God was being faithful to him. Second, hardship is necessary for our transformation, for adversity forced Joseph to hunger after God’s presence. As he clung to God and learned about His faithfulness, Joseph underwent a total transformation in character. (Remember, there was a reason his brothers couldn’t stand Joseph, who freely boasted how one day he would rule over them.) Third, as Joseph realized His God was trustworthy and faithful to his promises, the Lord freed Joseph from his rightful bitterness, which in turn led him to remain faithful in His service under whatever circumstances: as a slave, a prisoner, and finally as a powerful ruler of Egypt. Understanding and resting in God’s promises frees us and allows us to be faithful in any present circumstance.

What difficult circumstances do you find yourself in today? Have you allowed the promises of God to penetrate your heart? Let us go to throne today and ask that He remind us of those promises.

Prayer: Father God, forgive me when I allow my heart to wander and make circumstances bigger than you. Remind me of Your promises and that if You have given us Your Son, what else would You not give us. Thank You that Jesus, who was tempted yet remained sinless, understands my present circumstance. Lord, help me to trust and rest in Your promises so that I may be faithful through my own struggles.
Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 2


Lunch Break Study

Read Genesis 15:2: But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”4 Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” 5 Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” 6 And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.

Questions to Consider

  1. What was the Lord’s promise to Abraham?
  2. What is said about Abraham in verse 6?
  3. When we feel like our circumstances overwhelm God’s promises, what can learn from this passage?

Notes

  1. God promised to give Abraham an heir that would be his own son, through whom He promised many descendants.
  2. Abraham is called righteous because of his faith.
  3. It is about 10 years since the last time God spoke to Abraham about his promises, so Abraham’s doubt is understandable. However, Abraham chooses to turn to God in this time and God renews his hope with the reiterated promise. Abraham is credited with righteousness because of his faith, not his deeds. Let’s emulate Abraham in this way to turn to God when we are tempted to doubt, and be renewed in His promises.

Evening Reflection

Lord, I confess that I do not always feel like being faithful when my circumstances are not what I expected. There are moments where I am tempted to doubt your promises and even your goodness. Help me to see beyond circumstance and renew my faith in You.

August 14, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals for August 14-16 are provided by Joanna Tzen, who graduated from U. Penn and currently works in Philadelphia.  Her husband Paul and Joanna attend and serve at Grace Covenant Church.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Focusing on the Giver, not the Gifts

Genesis 37:5-8

One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. “Listen to this dream,” he said. “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.

Many of us are familiar with the story of Joseph. We know he was his father’s favorite son, was sold into slavery by his brothers, but rose to be a man of power in Egypt. Joseph receives dreams from the Lord in this passage that he would be lifted above his family, clearly showing that he is favored and gifted by the Lord. He shares this with his family without much tact or wisdom, and it’s plain that his character leaves something to be desired.

Have you ever received a dream or a promise from God? Maybe it is the pursuit of a certain career path or getting into a certain school. Maybe it is getting married, having children, or starting a family; maybe it is all of the above. However, when we feel like a dream is delayed, it’s difficult to be faithful in the present and remember the promises of God. That certainly was the case with Abraham, Joseph’s great grandfather, who after waiting ten years for God to make good on His promise to give him a son, came up with his own plan. Pointing to his servant Eliezer, Abraham said to God, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir” (Gn. 15:3). Clearly, the man who will eventually be known as the father of faith had room to grow.

As we consider the story of Joseph over the next couple of days, we’ll see how his character grew in the waiting, marked by many trials and tribulations that no doubt left Joseph disappointed, frustrated and even doubtful. While we may be in our own period of waiting, though not as dramatic as that of Joseph’s, let’s first reflect not upon the promises themselves, but on the God who made them. Thus, in in the process, we can train our eyes to focus on the Giver and not just the things He can give us, which may lead to having too much and disowning God, saying, “Who is the Lord?” (Prov. 30:9). Today, let’s be content, knowing the best of God’s gift has already been granted to us: His Son Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for who You are as a good Father. Knowing this allows me to be faithful in the present and waiting. Thank you that I am given a purpose as a child of God, as was only possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus. In my current or future seasons of waiting, let me reflect on who You are and Your promises. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 1


Lunch Break Study

Read Genesis 12:1-3: The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is God asking of Abraham? What is His promise?
  2. Does Abraham heed what God asks in verse 4 and 10 of chapter 12?
  3. Even though Abraham is lauded as a man of faith later in the Bible, we know he made mistakes. How does that give us hope?

Notes

  1. God is asking Abraham to leave his country and family, and go to the promised land of Canaan. He promises to make Abraham into a great nation and a blessing to others.
  2. Abraham brings his cousin Lot in verse 4, so he does not heed to leave his family; and he leaves the promised land for Egypt in verse 10, not heeding the Lord’s command to stay in the land.
  3. We cannot nullify God’s promises through our disobedience. God is patient with us, allowing us to learn to trust Him and obey.

Evening Reflection

Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us promises as children of God. You promise that we are co-heirs of Jesus and You will be with us until the end of the age. Remind us that You are true to your word and that You are the Promise Keeper. Amen.

August 13, Sunday

Today’s AMI Devotional is written by Mei Lan Thallman. Mei Lan is originally from Taiwan and a graduate of Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary (M.A.) in Kentucky. She is the wife of Pastor Kirt, who serves at Grace Covenant Church (Philadelphia).  They have two children, Nate (13) and Naomi (11).

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

He Restores My Soul

James 4:7-10

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

At the beginning of this summer, I felt wearied and fatigued, like a car that has been on a long distance nonstop travel. My physical and emotional tanks were running on empty, warning lights flashing on all core components of my personhood. After sending the kids to their grandparents’ farm for a week, I told my husband that I desperately needed an extended personal time with Jesus.

For three days I simply took the time to draw near in His presence through music, prayer, reading His word and lying prostrate on the floor in my living room. Jesus faithfully and graciously met me where I was with His very presence. He met me in the deepest recess of my soul and spirit as only He could. I felt the Holy Spirit ministering to me so deeply that I had no words to respond, but simply surrendered to the flows of deep groaning with buckets of tears. He was with me and He was restoring my soul.

During those three days of personal retreat with Jesus, I kept on remembering the tender account of God’s providential care for the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19. After experiencing God’s supernatural empowerment to defeat 450 false prophets of Baal and ending 3½ years of severe drought, Elijah’s battle weariness led him into a time of isolation, depression and self-pity.

Like a loving mother tenderly caring for her embittered and discouraged child, God met Elijah’s complaint and fatigue by sending angels repeatedly to provide him food and rest. He simply loved on Elijah and restored him from the inside out. After being reminded and reaffirmed of where he belonged, Elijah was ready to continue the race with God.

Do you need to be reminded today of who you are and whose vessel you are? Do you need to be reassured of His love for yourself and experience his restoration power? Come to Him as you are and linger in His presence. Come taste and see for yourself the goodness and sweetness of your Heavenly Father.

Prayer: Father God, No one knows me like you and no one loves me and is able to meet my deepest needs like you. No one can restore me like you can. Please forgive me for substituting other people, things, activities and accomplishments to meet the needs of my soul. Help me daily to draw near you and allow you to satisfy my needy soul.

Bible Reading for Today: Haggai 2