December 11, Monday

The AMI QT Devotional for today is written by Pastor Andrew Kim at Tapestry Church.  Andrew is currently studying (M.Div.) at Fuller Theological Seminary.  He and Jessie were married in 2014.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Genesis 27:1-4

When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me,4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”

In today’s passage, we see the beginning of a story marked by deception and lies. As Isaac senses the nearness of his own death (although he would live for another 30-40 years), he feels the need to finish up some family business before he passes. However, the fact that the author of Genesis points out Jacob’s blindness is a hint on how the rest of the story will unfold. He plans on passing down the patriarchal blessing to Esau in exchange for a delicious meal. This seems to signify two things: First, it is comical in one sense to exchange the father’s blessing for a single meal. It seems as though Isaac does not understand the value of what he is passing on. Second, Isaac is apparently blind to the fact that Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob in exchange for a meal. The irony of this situation is easily seen. And this is only the beginning of a chapter which exposes the brokenness of all the characters involved.

It’s easy to see that the story of Isaac’s patriarchal blessing is full of deception and greed. There is no righteous character—no one morally upright in their dealings with people. In many ways, this is an alarming observation, given the larger narrative at hand. Since the fall of Adam, God has been working through the Abrahamic lineage to bring about the redemption and renewal of the world. It is through Abraham’s line that God will usher in His blessing to the entire world. However, those who are central to this plan seem to reflect the fallenness of Adam, rather than the goodness of God. In other words, there are no signs of hope of God’s promised blessing. Nevertheless, as Christians we know how the story turns out. Despite the sinful inclinations of the main characters in the biblical narrative, God ushers in the promised blessing through a sinless human from Abraham’s line in Jesus Christ. What this shows us is that God’s plan cannot be thwarted by humanity’s failures. What God has planned and promised will come to pass regardless of our shortcomings.

As we continue to strive to a live a life for God, let us hold fast to the comforting truth that God’s plan will prevail—despite the fallenness of ourselves and those around us!

Prayer: God, thank You that You work through us, despite how broken we are. And thank You that our hope is not found in our efforts or abilities to accomplish the task You have given to us but rather in your sovereignty and faithfulness to us! Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 44


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 3:21-2: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Questions to consider

  1. What is the verdict given to all of humanity in verse 23?
  2. How does Jesus remedy the guilty verdict handed out to all of humanity?
  3. What role has grace played in your life?

Notes

  1. All of humanity has fallen short of the glory of God. This is both in regards to moral transgressions and also in the posture of one’s heart. In other words, people have not only broken the written code but also chose to live in rebellion against God.
  2. Through His death on the cross, a righteousness that is approved before God has been manifested and given to those who believe in the gospel. This is precisely the blessing that was supposed to flow to all of humanity through the line of Abraham.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Oftentimes, when we read stories like Isaac and Jacob, it is easy to stand at a distance and condemn their actions. However, one of the most radical things that the gospel does is help us recognize that we are no less morally corrupt. Tim Keller says, “The more aware you are of God’s grace & acceptance the more you are able to drop your self-defenses & admit the true dimensions of your sin.” Do you have an accurate picture of yourself? Has God’s grace undone your self-righteousness?

December 9, Saturday

The AMI QT Devotionals from December 4-10 are written by Andy Kim. Andy, a graduate of Northwestern University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) currently serves as a staff at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco. And this past November Andy got married . . . to Jane. Congratulations.

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Genesis 26:18-25

And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. 19 But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, 20 the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. 21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah.22 And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. 23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” 25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well.

Moving is stressful because it means finding a place to live in a crazy housing market, adjusting to different cultures, and embracing a new community. In the midst of this chaos, what we deem as non-negotiable keeps us sane: For some it’s an in-unit washer/dryer; the school district; bathroom water pressure; the type of people; nearby friends; etc. The general rule of thumb is that if you can secure what is non-negotiable to you, then you should sign the papers—or else you might lose it. And in the Mosaic period, the most important non-negotiable was a source of water.

Our passage today shows Isaac’s journey of searching for a well in hopes of settling down. Unfortunately, every time he finds one, the Philistines feel threatened and force him to leave. But as Isaac continues to wander, he finally finds a well unchallenged in Rehoboth; but rather than settling there, Isaac continues onto Beersheba— Beersheba was the first place Abraham and Isaac set out for after Isaac’s life is spared on Mt. Moriah. It most likely reminded Isaac of the traumatic memories of when his father almost sacrificed him, but the Lord provided. And yet, Isaac decides to settle down here. Why?

Notice how the sequence is reversed: (1) Isaac hears from the Lord and is reminded of the promise given to him; (2) he responds by building a place of worship; (3) he settles his tent there;   (4) finally, he digs the well. In other words, Isaac’s reason for settling there was that he encountered the Lord—not merely because of a water source. He prioritized his spiritual needs before his physical needs, because he knew the Lord would provide. May this be a good reminder for our lives. Whether it is moving to a new place, starting a new career, or even transitioning into a new season, may our non-negotiable be first and foremost His presence and His word. Let us take hope in that as we seek after Him, He is a good Father who will provide.

Prayer: Father, we confess that oftentimes we are driven by our material needs rather than our spiritual ones. Help us to set our priorities according to Your Word, for You are a good Father who will always provide. May we not worry about our lives, but help us to always seek first Your Kingdom and Your righteousness (Matt. 6:25-34).  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 41-42

December 8, Friday

The AMI QT Devotionals from December 4-10 are written by Andy Kim. Andy, a graduate of Northwestern University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) currently serves as a staff at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco. And this past November Andy got married . . . to Jane. Congratulations.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Genesis 26:6-13

So Isaac settled in Gerar. 7 When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance. 8 When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife. 9 So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I thought, ‘Lest I die because of her.’” 10 Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” 11 So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.” 12 And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The Lord blessed him, 13 and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy.

Like father, like son—or in the case of my friend, like father, like daughter. To give context, my friend is a 250-pound man who was known to be like a rock—emotionless and unmovable. That was until his daughter came into the picture and found himself crying. Surprisingly, it was not when she was born, but it was the first time she had done something bad. What made him cry was the fact that he saw his own bad habits in his precious little baby daughter. He couldn’t believe how such an innocent child could follow after his own selfishness.  Even when he was disciplining her, he felt like he was disciplining an innocent baby, a victim of his own selfishness.

Today’s passage shows us another instance of like father, like son. God finally commissions Isaac; and the first thing mentioned about him is his total failure—a  failure familiar to us. In fear for his own life, Isaac gives up his wife to save himself. Even worse, he risked the promised blessing that was supposed to come through her had she been defiled by the Philistines. It was the same selfish and thoughtless heart that Abraham had, but now in his son. But despite Isaac’s selfishness, God still chooses to bless him and remains faithful to the promise made to him. Pastor Jonathan Parnell describes it as the “Providence of God, where He preserves the order of all things and guides them toward His intended end.” In other words, nothing can thwart the fulfillment of God’s purpose in us (Job 42:2).

For many of us it’s difficult to think that despite our failures, God still chooses to work in us. In our performance driven world, a failure either means some sort of punishment or disqualification, because we think God’s blessing is conditional on our performance. However, when my friend witnessed his daughter’s selfishness, it did not change his love or affection for her. He still had to discipline her, but even this was done in love for her betterment. Imagine how much our Father in heaven continues to love and desires to work in us. May we be encouraged this morning that He works relentlessly for the good of those who love Him. Even in His discipline, He does so in love, so that we would ultimately become more like Christ. Take heart, for He will finish the good work that He started in you.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to us. Thank You that there’s nothing we can do to hinder Your plans for us. Help us to remember that You are working for our good and that we can trust in Your providence. Jesus, we thank You for what You did on the cross, for nothing can separate us from the love of the Father.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 40


Lunch Break Study

Read Micah 7:6-9:  For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies are the members of his own household. 7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does Micah respond to the sins of God’s people?
  2. What releases Micah from the bondage of sin?
  3. What can we learn about dealing with sin? How do you usually respond when you have fallen in sin?

Notes

  1. The context of the passage is the people of God have rebelled not only against God, but even against each other (v. 6). First, Micah looks to the Lord and reminds himself that his salvation comes only from the Lord. This gives him the confidence to fight against the enemy’s guilt and shame. Micah puts his hope in the Lord to be delivered from such unrighteousness.
  2. In verse 9, Micah writes, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord”—meaning, there is an acknowledgment of sin against the Lord. However, Micah points out that it is the Lord who pleads our case, and only He is the one to execute judgment. Notice here that God is not only the Judge, but He is also his Advocate. As believers we know this was made possible through Jesus Christ who stands on behalf of us and frees us from all condemnation (Romans 8:34).
  3. Our first response must be to look the Lord, knowing that our salvation was never based on our ability to be righteous. Know that it is God who delivers us from our guilt and shame. Second, let this truth lead us to repentance. Lastly, may we remember that through Christ we are cleansed of all unrighteousness.

Evening Reflection

Spend a few moments meditating on these verses:

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! – Psalm 57:2-3

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. – Psalm 139:16

The psalmist was convinced that God knew him, every aspect of him—his past, present, and future. May we come to this conclusion for ourselves this evening.

December 7, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals from December 4-10 are written by Andy Kim. Andy, a graduate of Northwestern University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) currently serves as a staff at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco. And this past November Andy got married . . . to Jane. Congratulations.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Genesis 26:1-5

Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. 2 And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Over the past decade, millennials have gotten a bad reputation, especially from the previous generations. Time magazine writer John Stein describes the stigma of the millennials as the “ME, ME, ME” generation. While previous generations have been built on hard work and sacrifice for the next, millennials expect to simply ride on their coat tails. Stein writes that the consequences are feelings of entitlement and laziness. As a millennial, I feel that these generalizations may be debatable, but we can all agree that there is no such thing as a free ride in our world today.

In our passage, the writer makes it clear that Isaac is the benefactor of Abraham’s obedience. But if the blessings that came to Isaac were only because “Abraham obeyed God’s voice and kept his charge” (v. 5), then why make Isaac go through the same trials his father endured? Again and again, Isaac’s life seems to follow in the footsteps of his father—from living in famine, struggling under foreign rulers, to having no place to settle down (vv. 1-4). All of this is under the future promise that God will bless them later. Why? Perhaps God is trying to teach Isaac that even though the blessings have come through his father, he, too, must exercise faith in order to fully enjoy the promised blessings. But more than the blessings themselves, God wanted to ensure that Isaac, too, would have a personal relationship with Him.

Let’s take a moment to re-examine our faith: Why do we believe in the things we believe in? Is it because we were born into it, or we grew up in a believing community? Is it based on the faith of our church leaders, or perhaps how much we do for the church? While these are all important, ultimately, God desires that we would all personally know Him. J.I. Packer writes, “There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them.” While salvation has been freely given, it is by no means a free ride for anyone. It only is given to those who have personally experienced Him and believe in His word. And so as we look to the fathers of faith, may we continue to run with endurance the race that is set before us—only now, looking to Jesus the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:1).

Prayer: Father, we confess that oftentimes we focus more on the things You can do for us rather than in who You are. Help us to remember that You are the faithful God who knows what’s best for us. Give us the strength in our prayers to trust that You will move in Your perfect timing and way. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 39


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 3:4-11: If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does Paul’s knowledge of God change in this passage?
  2. What is the result of Paul’s change in understanding? How does it change him?
  3. How do you see your knowledge of God changing you?

Notes

  1. Though Paul has quite an impressive resume and experience that shows he knows about God more than anyone else, he makes it clear that such knowledge is nothing in comparison to knowing Christ—making a distinction between simply knowing about God and His ways vs. knowing Christ. Paul states that to know Christ is ultimately to be found in Him—that is, to be in fellowship and relationship with Him. He realizes that only such a relationship with Christ is what makes him truly righteous.
  2. Commentator Melick writes, “It was impossible to hold on to the former values and still have Christ. It was one or the other, and Christ exceeded anything and everything else.” And so Paul is able to freely give up his past experiences and accomplishments because knowing Christ was far greater than these. When we find something of infinite value, all other things lose their significance in our lives. Thus, Paul’s pursuit of knowing Christ gives him the strength and power to endure through life’s sufferings.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

J.I. Packer writes that all the things we know about God mean nothing if we don’t actually know Him. In Knowing God he writes, “How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each Truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.” We can only really know a person when we spend time with them. Let us take a moment to think of some truth we know about God—maybe it’s a simple verse or even a phrase. Spend a few moments simply meditating on it. Sometimes it helps to declare those words over yourself. Even the simplest truths can speak volumes when the words come alive in the heart.

December 6, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from December 4-10 are written by Andy Kim. Andy, a graduate of Northwestern University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) currently serves as a staff at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco. And this past November Andy got married . . . to Jane. Congratulations.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Genesis 25:19-22

These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 

Over Thanksgiving, we laughed over past memories of my silly childhood and one stood out in particular. My mom would take me to prayer meetings and leave me in the back with the other kids to run around. In one service, the pastor went around praying and laying hands on the heads of the people. The next morning while my mom was praying, she suddenly felt a hand on her head. She had thought it was Jesus! But when she looked up, she was shocked to see her four-year-old son passionately jerking her head yelling gibberish! For many of us, we’ve learned to pray ever since we were young. But over time, such learned prayers can become repetitive and mundane. The danger is that these once faith-driven prayers can become mere afterthoughts.

Our passage today shows a familiar story for Isaac and us. Surely Abraham had told his son the stories of his miraculous birth and the incredible journey of faith God had taken them on. Except this time it was no longer just a story; it was now Isaac’s reality. Like his parents, Isaac and Rebekah were barren. And our passage clearly tells us that Isaac responds in prayer. A prayer that persevered for 20 years until the age of 60, where the Lord finally “grants his prayer.” There is no mention of another Ishmael incident or Isaac taking matters into his own hands. Perhaps Isaac thought that if God could give my 100-year-old parents a child, then surely he would deliver me. If the covenant between God and his father (something he probably had heard all of his life) were true, then God would be faithful to him and Rebekah. And so, Isaac prayed for a child and 20 years later God had finally answered his prayer.

In times of waiting, we are easily tempted to act on our own. Sometimes praying may seem ineffective especially when answers seem delayed and distant. As a result, our focus becomes fixated on the outcome of our prayers and we lose sight of the one we are praying to. But as Eugene Peterson says, “waiting in prayer is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts.” Prayer is our way of trusting that the Lord will move in His perfect way and timing even in the most impossible situations. May prayer always be our first and last response. Whether it is your career or your family, may we learn to pray unceasingly regardless of the outcome. Let us restore our belief in the power of prayer this day.

Prayer: Father, we confess that often times we focus more on the things You can do for us rather than in who You are. Help us to remember that You are God, who is faithful and knows what’s best for us. Give us the strength in our prayers to trust that You will move in your perfect timing and way.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 38


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 18:1-8: And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does the judge give into the woman’s plea?
  2. What does this parable say about the character of God? Why is prayer important?
  3. Is there a prayer that you have stopped praying because of the lack of fruit? May this persistent widow’s heart encourage you to pray for that person or situation once again.

Notes

  1. Surprisingly, the judge listens to the woman’s plea because of her persistence. Rather than looking at the situation and judging the situation at hand, the judge is moved by the woman’s persistent heart. In the same way, God looks at the heart of the persistent prayer more than the circumstance. But unlike the judge who doesn’t care, God is a judge who does care and will answer the cries of his people.
  2. The context of the parable comes right after Jesus teaches on the coming of the Kingdom of God. In essence Jesus is saying that people will be come desensitized to God’s kingdom. John Piper said, “the good things in life can make us just as insensitive to the reality of God as the gross things in life can.” And so, Jesus is teaching his disciple that persistent prayer is what prevents us from losing heart and keeps us sensitive to the things of God.
  3. Personal Response.

Evening Reflection

C.S. Lewis has shaped and touched the minds of many through his works. But what is not often told is the difficult and tragic personal life he lived, particularly the story of his wife Joy Gresham. After meeting later in their years, tragedy strikes as Joy is diagnosed with cancer right before they are to marry. This touching story was later created into a movie where one of Lewis’ friends tries to reassure his persistent prayers for the hopeless situation of his wife. To this Lewis replies, “That’s not why I pray, Harry. I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”

May this be a good reminder for us this evening. It is not wrong to expect God to move in our prayers. However, may our prayers tonight be more than a list of requests; but an expectation for us to be changed first. May we ask God to give us eyes to see whatever situation or circumstance through His eyes, to see that He has a far greater plan than we could ever imagine.

December 5, Tuesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from December 4-10 are written by Andy Kim. Andy, a graduate of Northwestern University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) currently serves as a staff at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco. And this past November Andy got married . . . to Jane. Congratulations.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Genesis 25:29-34

 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted.30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom. 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.”32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Every year, America witnesses the inner savage in all humans—we call it Black Friday shopping. In the past, shoppers have actually pulled out guns but people still refused to let go of televisions and computers even as they were getting shot at. This year, a shopper threw a shoe at a poor innocent baby while trying to beat the rush. Suffice it to say, we can all agree that Black Friday shopping has taken over and destroyed the meaning of Thanksgiving. Rather than celebrating with families and friends and thinking of the years’ past blessings, people sit in tents waiting in lines, fighting one another. Over what? Just to save some money on items that will soon be outdated.

In our passage today, Esau trades his birthright for a lousy bowl of soup because of his physical hunger. During the Mosaic times, the birthright, especially of the first child, meant a double portion of the family inheritance. It was their identity as the one to carry on the family line. Growing up, I always thought that Jacob was the conniving villain and Esau was just a naïve victim. But as I read this passage carefully I realized that, although Jacob deceived his brother, Esau had a great fault of his own. He failed to recognize the value and importance of his birthright; he did not fully understand the depth of the inheritance promised to him. As a result, Esau traded away something valuable for that which would only satisfy his immediate physical need, only to regret forever.

The stories of Black Friday may seem comical, but the reality is, how often have we fallen into the same trap? How often do we chase after things of the world, putting our value and identity in them only to be disappointed? Sure, we can say that’s life and we are simply victims of it, but at what cost? May we never lose sight of our true identity and the inheritance that awaits all those who believe in the eternal value of salvation. It’s not to say other things are not important and that we shouldn’t pursue them; but it is to pursue them in light of our eternal inheritance. We all have been given something far greater than what this world could ever offer. May we never trade our identities as co-heirs to His kingdom for the fading temporary pleasures of this world.

Prayer: Father, we confess that many times we put things before You because we think it will satisfy us. However, we know that all these are temporary pleasures, for only You can truly satisfy us. Would You strengthen us in times when we are tempted to forget this truth? Help us to live our lives in light of our eternal inheritance.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 37


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 8:14-17: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does it mean to be led by the Spirit of God? How does this change our relationship with God?
  2. What does it mean for us to be adopted? What are the implications of this?
  3. What is the inheritance given to us as sons and daughters?

Notes

  1. Paul states that only those who are led by the spirit can come into a new relationship as sons of God. He contrasts this with the relationship between slaves and their masters. Slaves have no authority in their lives and must listen to their masters. Paul is referring to our state prior to salvation when we were slaves to the flesh under the law. Slaves serve their masters out of fear of being punished; but as sons, we no longer serve out of such fear. Instead, as sons, we have a lasting relationship where we address God as “Father”.
  2. In our modern context, the word adoption brings up images of legal papers and processes. However, commentator Warren Wiersbe writes: “The literal meaning of the Greel word is “son-placing”—the taking of a minor (whether in the family or outside) and making him or her the rightful heir. As heirs, we are then given an inheritance to His kingdom. We have been adopted into God’s family by the Spirit, and not by our own merit.
  3. Paul is talking about an eternal inheritance that awaits us—the glory that we will share with Christ! Note, Paul makes a distinction that such glory comes with some suffering along the way. This suffering refers to the discipline that, as believers, we are to live by (Paul speaks of such disciplined life in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27). But such discipline pales in comparison to “what is in store for us is so grand and glorious that it will be, and will feel, as though we each had alone gotten most of the glory of God” (Timothy Keller).

Evening Reflection

The 1980’s American classic Annie is a film about an orphan girl who lives under the mistreatment of Miss Hannigan, an abusive alcoholic. The story takes a turn when a billionaire decides to adopt an orphan for a week to boost his public image. Annie is chosen and her life is forever changed as she lives in a lavish house with everything at her fingertips. The story ends with the billionaire eventually adopting Annie as his own daughter. Her life is forever changed from living in a broken run down house under a terrible caretaker, to a lavish mansion under the love and care of her new father.
May we be reminded that we too were once orphans in this world. And in our hopelessness, God has adopted us as his sons and daughters. Remember we are heirs to His kingdom and we now have full access to all that is His. Spend some time reflecting on this truth.

December 4, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from December 4-10 are written by Andy Kim. Andy, a graduate of Northwestern University and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) currently serves as a staff at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco. And this past November Andy got married . . . to Jane. Congratulations.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Genesis 25:6-7; 16-18

Abraham gave all he had to Isaac. 6 But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, and while he was still living he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country.
16 These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages and by their encampments, twelve princes according to their tribes. 17 (These are the years of the life of Ishmael: 137 years. He breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people.) 18 They settled from Havilah to Shur, which is opposite Egypt in the direction of Assyria. He settled over against all his kinsmen.

We have all given up something to be where we are today. For the sake of your career, think about all the fun you gave up with countless hours for that next promotion; for your family, all the sacrifices you made for your kids; for your health, all the sugary carbs with depressing diets and workouts. We call these “opportunity cost”: simply put, it is to give up something for something else usually of greater value.

This was a situation all too familiar for Abraham as he had to make some difficult choices.
Finally having become a father to several children, that is, after not having even one for many years, Abraham finds himself having to send them away for the sake of Isaac, his promised inheritance. One thing we learn from Abraham’s life is that living according to God’s promise will come at a cost.

For Abraham, Ishmael, in particular, was one of those great costs that he struggled to give up. Remember, Ishmael was the product of Abraham and Sarah not trusting in the Lord. Nevertheless, Abraham spent 15-16 years raising his only child at the time, giving him everything he had. It is after this God asks Abraham to give Ishmael up and cast him out of his presence. This had to be one of Abraham’s greatest regrets, perhaps muttering to himself, “If I had only waited for God to come through, or what about all those years I spent with him . . .” But the story concludes in verses 12-18 where we see that God is faithful to His promise to bless Ishmael and make him into a mighty nation.

Like Abraham, maybe there are areas in our lives that we simply cannot let go. Perhaps, we are given to thinking that if we let this go, then all the work and effort we put into will go to waste. But take hope in that nothing goes to waste when it is given to the Lord. May we remember that it is not simply giving them up, but it is giving them to Him. Though these costs may seem weighty at the moment, they will prove to be insignificant in comparison to the promise given to us. Therefore, let us follow after Him as Abraham did, knowing that He will be faithful to the very end. Yes, there will be costs, but may we remember the greatest cost that was paid for us—
the very life of Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Father, we confess our lack of faith in you. Giving You complete control can be so hard, but help us to see that Your plan is so much greater than ours will ever be. We know that You have what’s best in store for us. Help us to surrender all that we have so that Your perfect will be done in our lives.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 36


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 9:57-62: As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Jesus provides three scenarios in regard to following him. What is Jesus trying to teach his disciples about following Him?
  2. What does this mean for us? Does this mean we should not have any of these important things?
  3. How does this apply to you? Spend some time in prayer, refocusing and remembering the value of Christ. What are the things in your life that you cannot fully let go of?

Notes

  1. The context of this passage is Jesus heading to Jerusalem where he would be mistreated, betrayed, and ultimately crucified. In the first scenario Jesus refers to the fact that following him could mean giving up our securities even such as a place to settle down. Second, it could mean giving up obligations to our relationships that are close and dear to us. Lastly, following Christ means not to look back. John Piper warns us of “indecisive discipleship, meaning you can’t follow Christ if you are second-guessing the value of following him.” Following Christ requires everything.
  2. No, it’s a matter of what is priority in your life. When it comes to it, could you and will you put Christ before these important things? It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about them, but it means that you trust in Him enough that He would allow His will to unfold in your life. It means to believe in the value of His kingdom over all things.
  3. Personal Response. Take courage for Christ welcomes us to follow Him as he walks with us. Remember it may not happen overnight, but it is a life long journey that we walk with him.

Evening Reflection

Today, some churches try to make the Christian faith more appealing and “nicer” by avoiding ideas around the cost of following Him. It can be discouraging to think about the costs. However, as Christians, we look at the cost in the face of understanding what we gain. That in giving up our lives to Him, we gain the ultimate glory of being with Him in eternity. If we truly understood this, then we would gladly give up the temporary pleasures of this world.

In light of all that we have considered today, spend some time reflecting on this. Begin with the infinite glory that He promises us, and allow that truth to help us to surrender those areas we struggle to give to Him.

December 3, Sunday

The AMI QT Devotionals for November 27 to December 3 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston. David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace, who teaches at a public school.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Willingness”

Genesis 24:57-58

They said, “Let us call the young woman and ask her.” And they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will go.”

In order to become a US Navy SEAL, you need to be 28 years or younger, have near perfect vision, be able to run 1.5 miles in 9-10 minutes or less, do 100+ pushups in 2 minutes, 100+ sit-ups in 2 minutes, and swim 500 yards (5 football fields) in less than 8 minutes. And those are just some of the physical requirements; there is a whole lot more testing that you have to pass in order to potentially become a Navy SEAL. They are one of the elite forces in the United States military, and so their selection process is very stringent. Only the cream of the crop should even think about applying. But those who go on to become SEALs are some of the most honored, respected, and saluted service-men in our nation.

The way our society works is that the more prestigious a position is, the harder it is to attain that position—that makes sense to us. Perhaps this is why it’s so counter-intuitive to serve a God whose only requirement of us is that we be willing. We don’t need to have perfect vision, be in peak physical condition, or have the best grades and test scores. All we need to have in order to be part of God’s plan is willingness. That’s it! The rest is up to God.

Our passage today is a short one, and thus it can be easily missed. But what we see here is an incredible display of Rebekah’s willingness to respond to God’s plan. The reality is that she had just met this random man one day ago. He gave her some jewelry. Then he said some things about the Lord granting him success in his journey of finding her. Then, the next day he invites her to leave her house and go to a far-off land in order to become the wife of a man she has never met. But she trusts that God is truly behind the scenes, and she responds with a simple, “I will go,” and the rest is history.

Rebekah’s response is not without precedent. Abraham also responded in the same way when God told him to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldeans. Also, Noah, when commanded to build a giant boat, proceeds to do so, in spite of the mockery surrounding him. Likewise, the prophet Isaiah responds to God’s call by saying, “Here I am, send me.” In the New Testament, when an angel appears before Mary with a shocking plan, Mary responds, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And perhaps the greatest example of willingness is our Lord Jesus Himself, who became obedient even to the point of death on a cross. When we look at Scripture, we see that the number one quality that God looks for in us is willingness.
How is your “willingness” these days? If God were to interrupt your plans today, how willing would you be to stop and join Him in whatever work He is inviting you into? Before we offer our skills, resources, gifts, and effort up to God, let us first don a willing heart!

Prayer: God, we recognize that the only things that are of eternal significance are the things that are of Your plan. So help us to seek Your kingdom first. Help us to put on willing hearts. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 35

December 2, Saturday

The AMI QT Devotionals for November 27 to December 3 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston. David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace, who teaches at a public school.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Asking for Confirmation”

Genesis 24:10-14

Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water. And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

Growing up, I always believed it was utterly wrong to ask God for a sign, and not without good reason! There are many examples from Scripture where it was clearly wrong to ask for a sign: For example, when the Israelites tested God at Massah (Ex. 17), or when Jesus was tempted by Satan to throw himself down from the temple (Matt. 4), and also when Jesus rebukes an “evil generation” that seeks for a sign (Luke 11). But on the other hand, there are also some examples where it was right for people to ask God for a sign: When Gideon received his call, he asked for several consecutive signs to confirm his anointing as a judge over Israel. In 2 Kings 20, Hezekiah asks for a sign to confirm that he would indeed be healed of his deathly illness. Furthermore, in the book of Malachi, God even invites His people to put Him to the test when it comes to tithing!

In our passage today, Abraham’s servant asks God for a sign, that the woman he asks to give him a drink would also extend herself to water his camels as well. Lo and behold, God grants him the sign, and he ends up meeting Rebekah. But what made this servant’s request appropriate? It was because he was acting within the realm of God’s will. He had already taken ten camels, all sorts of gifts, and had traveled an incredibly long distance, for no other reason than out of obedience. In other words, asking God for a sign of confirmation becomes appropriate when we are in the context of God’s will, and we are walking in obedience.

Of course, there is a point where asking for signs can become dangerous, not only to ourselves but to others as well. (An easy way to tell this is if the sign itself becomes more desirable than the actual obedience to God. This can be called “testing”.) But I believe that when we ask God for confirmation of His will, and we have the heart to obey, He will respond. It may be through Scripture, through the wise words of a friend/mentor, through prayer, or even our circumstances. Let us not be afraid to ask our Heavenly Father to speak to us!

Prayer: Lord, we desire to hear from You, because we want to walk with You. Open our eyes to be able to see Your hand at work around us. Help us to sense Your presence, even in the unlikeliest of places. Our desire is to be able to join You in Your Kingdom work each day. Help us to do so. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 33-34