January 15, Tuesday

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AMI Quiet Times

The AMI QT blogs for January (weekdays), provided by Pastor Ryun Chang, are extended to cover important sociopolitical matters that have serious ramifications for the Christian faith.  Pastor Ryun (PhD), who serves as the Teaching Pastor of AMI, is the author of Manual de Misionología, Theologizing in the Racial Middle, and a contributor to The Reshaping of Mission in Latin America.

Disclaimer: AMI, as a consortium of several churches, allows the expression of multiple standpoints on non-essential biblical matters. My views expressed here do not necessarily represent the respective views of AMI pastors.  I am also mindful that not every reader will agree with my stances on sensitive and contentious issues addressed in this month’s blogs. Where that may be the case, I invite you to utilize the comment section below, so that we may have an open dialogue; I highly encourage all readers to share their…

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January 10, Thursday

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AMI Quiet Times

The AMI QT blogs for January (weekdays), provided by Pastor Ryun Chang, are extended to cover important sociopolitical matters that have serious ramifications for the Christian faith.  Pastor Ryun (PhD), who serves as the Teaching Pastor of AMI, is the author of Manual de Misionología, Theologizing in the Racial Middle, and a contributor to The Reshaping of Mission in Latin America.

Disclaimer: AMI, as a consortium of several churches, allows the expression of multiple standpoints on non-essential biblical matters. My views expressed here do not necessarily represent the respective views of AMI pastors.  I am also mindful that not every reader will agree with my stances on sensitive and contentious issues addressed in this month’s blogs. Where that may be the case, I invite you to utilize the comment section below, so that we may have an open dialogue; I highly encourage all readers to share their…

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January 5, Saturday

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AMI Quiet Times

The AMI Spiritual Food for Thought for the weekend of January 5-6 is provided by Mei Lan Thallman who is currently serving as a staff at Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia. Mei Lan, originally from Taiwan, is a graduate of Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary (M.A.) in Kentucky.  She and her husband Pastor Kirt have two children, Nate and Naomi

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Serving Jesus”

 Luke 1:38

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

In preparation for the past advent season, I was struck by Mary’s character, childlike trust and deep faith in God. Though just a teenager, she displayed maturity beyond her years.  And while tracing the progression of her life recorded in Scripture, I, as a child of God, and a wife and mother, have been convicted and challenged by her example.

First, her…

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January 3, Thursday

Please read this updated version.

AMI Quiet Times

The AMI QT blogs for January (weekdays), provided by Pastor Ryun Chang, are extended to cover important sociopolitical matters that have serious ramifications for the Christian faith.  Pastor Ryun (PhD), who serves as the Teaching Pastor of AMI, is the author of Manual de Misionología, Theologizing in the Racial Middle, and a contributor to The Reshaping of Mission in Latin America.

Disclaimer: AMI, as a consortium of several churches, allows the expression of multiple standpoints on non-essential biblical matters. My views expressed here do not necessarily represent the respective views of AMI pastors.  I am also mindful that not every reader will agree with my stances on sensitive and contentious issues addressed in this month’s blogs. Where that may be the case, I invite you to utilize the comment section below, so that we may have an open dialogue; I highly encourage all readers to share their…

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December 2, Sunday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“The Best Advice I Can Give”

James 5:13-18 (NASB)

Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

My adviceAs a young pastor still learning a lot about what it means to lead and care for others, I often find myself in situations where I am unsure what advice to give to people. I find myself often seeking the wise counsel of older, more experienced pastors. I ask them how they would handle certain situations or their thoughts on what I believe I’m receiving in prayer. But more times than not, our conversations end up in a place where there really is no other solution than this: they need to pray.

And I’m starting to realize how the best advice I could give as a pastor is really this—you need to pray. I would often feel the pressure of wanting to say the right thing or have that nugget of wisdom that will help them to see things more clearly. But in the end, I’m learning that there is no substitute, no alternative to someone humbling themselves before God and Him speaking to them.

James is often considered one of the most practical books found in scripture. And you can see this in his final exhortation to the believers. James speaks to those who are suffering, those who are cheerful, those who are sick, those in sin; in other words, in all circumstances of life, James’ practical direction is prayer. And the language here is not suggestive, that is, the verb tense used here is an imperative: He must pray.

The question I want to challenge all of us here today is how practical is prayer in your life? When we are sick, when we are stressed, or when we are confused, is prayer the practical next step for you? What about times when you are rejoicing or celebrating, is prayer or worship the immediate response?

As practical as the book of James is, it is also profoundly theological. For James, the idea that every good and perfect gift comes from God is not merely an ideal—it is a reality in which we are to live daily. Our everyday interactions are not just between two people; there is another Person involved, meaning the practical workings of our lives have a profound spiritual reality. Therefore, we must pray. And the promise is that prayer that is right before God can accomplish much.

Brothers and sisters, it’s already December. Another year is ending, and the question I want to ask is how’s your prayer life? In less religious words, basically what I want to ask is how’s your relationship with the Lord? The vibrancy of our relationship with God dictates our ability to see how interconnected and involved He is in our lives. So I pray that every moment and aspect of our lives would be in and through and for God.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of prayer. Thank You that when we humble ourselves and pray, You are a God who is there. Thank You that we have been given such a practical tool to build our relationship with You. Help us to use it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 2

 

November 25, Sunday

Devotional Thought for Today

“It Must Be Faith with Deeds”

James 2:14-26

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

When I decided to go on one-year missions to Shanghai in 2013, I shared the news with faith workmy non-Christian brother. His immediate response to what was supposed to be an exciting news was, “Don’t you think it’s better to provide education and service to people in need than organized religion?” Although his response hurt and frustrated me, I realize now that his question has some merit. What can religion do for the one who is sick, starving or without any basic needs met? Of course, they may be able to have a relationship with God and go to heaven, but is that what Christianity is all about? Does the God of love only care about salvation and not the earthly needs of His children?

When we look at the Bible, we can see that God is not reticent of people’s needs. Instead, we see God’s providential hand all throughout Israel’s journey from slavery into the promised land; we see Jesus’ heart to heal the brokenhearted in the story of Samaritan women; and we see Jesus feeding people rather than sending them away. Luke 4:18 sums up Jesus’ ministry as more than a proclamation of spiritual salvation, but a holistic ministry that brings deliverance to the captives, healing to the sick, and release for the oppressed.

The Christian faith is one that goes beyond a belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is a faith that is put to the test by our actions where faith and deeds meet to reflect the life of Christ. James calls it foolish to believe that you can have one without the other; in fact, Satan even believes in God, yet his faith is not credited to him as righteousness because his actions (or lack thereof) do not reflect a true salvific faith.

It is no different with us. To live an active life of faith we are called to respond with our deeds. While the greatest moment in our relationship with God is when we come to faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who saves a sinner like us, James shows us that our faith is made complete by our actions. That is, we are called to more than a life of belief, but a life where all that we do reflects the hope and faith that we have in a God who cares about all the needs of a person – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Therefore, let us be people whose faith is made complete by our faith and actions today!

Prayer: God I thank You that your work on the cross has sanctified me once and for all. Help me to live a life of not just faith, but a life with faith and deeds. And help me to be a beacon of light to others in all of their needs. In Jesus name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Ecclesiastes 6