September 23, Monday

Today AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Jason Sato who serves in Japan as a missionary, was originally posted on November 3, 2014.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“Get Input from Others—You Will Thank Me Later”

Proverbs 1:20-28

Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; 21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: 22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? 23 If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. 24 Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, 25 because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, 27 when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. 28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.

In college, I very rarely asked for help with my class work.  Sometimes, since I was so far behind, I didn’t even know what to ask; but most of the times, I thought I could figure it out myself.  I skipped discussion as well as group study sessions, assuming it would be more “efficient” to work on my own. As my GPA would testify, I acted rather foolishly.  

Not only in academics but in our morals, finances, and relationships, we tend to think that we are actually better off without any input from others; we believe our own wisdom is enough.  The eventual outcome of many of our decisions would indicate that this is a wishful thinking. 

In our passage, “Lady Wisdom” appeals to three types of people: simple ones, scoffers, and fools (v. 22).  The simple seem to enjoy their ignorance, content to remain shallow in thought and deed. Scoffers are skeptical of everything and everyone except themselves.  Fools go as far as to hate knowledge, acting belligerently toward anyone who would teach them. These types of people refuse to listen to wisdom.

Brothers and sisters, do we refuse to humbly and carefully consider criticism?  Do we prefer to unilaterally make decisions about our “own” lives? Are we somehow the only people we know who don’t need significant input from others? Perhaps we are not so different than the simple, skeptical, and foolish after all.

Those who reject “Lady Wisdom” can look forward to calamity, error, distress, and anguish (v. 26-27).  In that day, we will scramble for a way out, but it may be too late (v. 28). But there is a way out now!  If we turn to the Only Wise God, He will pour out His Spirit upon us (v. 23).  

Is there something in your life that is difficult or confusing?  Are you unsure of the right or most effective path? Let’s commit to seeking the wisdom of God in prayer and with our small groups this week (James 1:4).

Prayer: Father, I thank You that You are the God of all wisdom.  It’s so easy for me to go my own way, but Lord, I don’t want to be simple, skeptical, or foolish.  Grant me humility to seek out wisdom in Your Word and with Your people.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 21


Lunch Break Study  

Read Hebrews 3:15-19: As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

Questions to Consider

  1. Those who hardened their hearts to the voice of the Lord had experienced the miraculous exodus from Egypt.  What types of things did they encounter?
  2. By hardening their hearts, what did these people lose out on?
  3. Verse 19 connects the people’s unwillingness to listen to God with unbelief. What did the people refuse to believe? How does your own unbelief make it difficult to listen to God?

Notes

  1. The ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar and cloud of the Lord, the miraculous manna, etc.
  2. God did not allow them to enter into the Promised Land and His rest.
  3. The people did not believe that God would protect them or fulfill His promises to them.  Since they did not believe God would take care of them and their families, they failed to obey as He commanded them to take the land of Canaan.

Evening Reflection

What opportunities did you have to ask God for wisdom and insight today?  What opportunities did you have to allow God’s people into your decisions?  Continue to ask for greater humility and wisdom.

September 22, Sunday

Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Yohan Lee of Remnant Church (NYC), was first posted on November 16, 2014

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“You Must Smell the Roses”

Proverbs 8:22-31

“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. 23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. 24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, 26 before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. 27 When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, 28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,30 then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, 31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.

When a natural disaster occurs, say a tsunami, flood, or earthquake, those who are skeptical of God, or even those who are struggling to understand God will often ask, “Where was God in all of the chaos?” or “Why would a good God allow so much trouble to befall on people?” Though there are theologically correct answers for these questions – God has a plan, God is in control, we live in fallen world, etc. – all of them are kind of hard for us to fully embrace, much less understand.  

I bring this up because when I read today’s passage, I am reminded of the end of Job.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the book, Job is plagued by Satan and by the middle of the book, he seeks an audience with God to understand why these thing have happened to him and to uphold his own righteousness.  In chapter 38, the Lord finally responds, but not in a way Job or the reader is expecting. Instead of explaining why Job was made to suffer, God overwhelms him with his resume, asking him questions like, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations, or marked out the divide between land and water, or told the sun to rise?”  Job 38-41 is an awesome and humbling account of God’s power and wisdom in creation. In the end, the audience is to conclude what Job finally confesses: there are just some things concerning God that are just too “wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3).

When you read Proverbs 8:22-31, you are not supposed to think that the Lord made the earth and everything in it haphazardly.  Rather, you are to understand that with his eternal wisdom, God carefully crafted the height of every mountain and hill, the depth of every basin and valley, and the width of every ocean.  No detail went unnoticed by the Creator. You are supposed to be left in awe of God and his creative power, acknowledging as Job did, “Some things are too wonderful for me to know.”  

This day, praise the Lord for his creation, and stop to “smell the roses.”  When I first moved to the Bay Area in 2014, I commented to my boss how beautiful the scenery and the vistas are here.  He responded by saying that Californians (he also being a native Californian) are spoiled and take them for granted. I hope to always see God’s wise workmanship in all of his creation.  I hope you can too.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to stop amid my busy day and ponder this amazing reality that I’m known by this awesome infinite-person God of the universe.  Thank You, Father, for caring for me so much so that Your Son was sent to die for my sin so I can live eternally through Christ. Amen.  

 

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 20

September 21, Saturday

Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Yohan Lee of Remnant Church (NYC), was first posted on November 15, 2014

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

Proverbs 8:1-11

Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? 2 At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; 3 beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud: 4 “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. 5 You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.  6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. 7 My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. 8 All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. 9 To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge. 10 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, 11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

According to Wikipedia, the phrase “elephant in the room” is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or unaddressed. It also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss. Behind this idea is that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have chosen to avoid dealing with the looming big issue.

In Proverbs 8, lady wisdom presents herself as the “elephant in the room.”  But not in the negative sense that wisdom is this big problem that people are trying to avoid; to the contrary, wisdom is loud and conspicuous, but unfortunately, too often ignored.  Many of us do not really have a good understanding of biblical wisdom, but simply put, it can best be defined as a skill set to make godly choices. When we understand it like that, it is easy to agree that wisdom is more precious than rubies (8:11), for who wouldn’t want more of that?  

Here is the great news: Wisdom is even more ready to go home with you than the temptress in Prov. 7, for she calls out from the highest point and the city gates, looking to grab attention (8:1-3); she wants to be found.  Moreover, James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” We have a heavenly Father who is eager to equip you with the tools you need to live well in this world.

So, this morning, pray for wisdom.

Prayer: Lord, help me to make wise choices.  Thank You, Father, for being generous with me and wanting me to live wisely for You. Give me the wisdom to seek wisdom from You daily.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today:  Matthew 18-19

September 20, Friday

Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Yohan Lee of Remnant Church (NYC), was first posted on November 14, 2014.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“If it’s Too Good to be True, It Probably is”

Proverbs 7:10-23

And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. 11 She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; 12 now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. 13 She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him,14 “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; 15 so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. 16 I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love.19 For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; 20 he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.” 21 With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. 22 All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast 23 till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.

Every so often, I will click on those flashing advertisements on the Internet that tell me how I can make up to $5,000 a week from home, or one telling me how I can get a new computer for a penny.  My brain tells me, “Stop! This is definitely a scam,” but there’s also a part of me that wonders whether I could get rich that easily. Of course, for the most part, my head wins out (and I know my wife would laugh at me if I would fall victim to an Internet scam).  But in the end, I do believe in this old adage that “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”  

Likewise, the writer of Proverbs presents adultery as a prospect too good to be true.  Here is a simpleton going to market, but a very risqué woman inevitably appears before him, telling him, “Come to bed with me, my husband is out of town.”  But the Proverbs writer knows that this boy is like cattle going to the slaughter house. How do you feel about sexual immorality? Though most of us will not go so far as to sleep with another man’s wife, Paul holds believers to a higher standard and warns us that there must not even be a “hint of sexual immorality among you” (Eph. 5:3).  Is that the standard by which you try to hold yourself? Or do you just accept some forms of lust and impurity as something we live with in our society? As AMI community, let’s do our best to present ourselves to the Lord as a holy and blameless people (Col. 1:22) with the help of the Holy Spirit, especially in the area of sexuality.  

As a side point, I was getting a little weary of writing again about adultery and sexual immorality.  But obviously the Proverbs writer emphasizes this topic, thinking that it is important; so it must be important.  

Prayer: Lord, help me this day to guard my body and mind, and also to have pure thoughts and desires, especially in the area of sexual purity.  Keep my mind from wandering, but that I would do what is pleasing to You. Help me to stay faithful by loving my wife/husband and desiring only her/him.  

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 17


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 5:27-30: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Questions to Consider

  1. How is lust related to adultery?
  2. What measures does Jesus advise us in order to avoid lust? 
  3. What point is Jesus making? 

Notes

  1. Jesus says that if we lust, we have committed adultery in our hearts.  So for all intents and purposes, they are rooted in the same sin.  
  2. Christ tells us to pluck out our eyes (please don’t take this literally), meaning we should be willing to take extreme measures to be pure; this may entail restricting your use of the computer or at least blocking several sites. Or for others, it may mean dressing modestly or staying away from places that get you in trouble.  
  3. Jesus’ real point is that we are all adulterers, and this is why we need the Gospel.  Only the blood of Christ can make us a pure people.  

Evening Reflection

How was your thought life today?  Did you discipline your mind to think of good and honorable things?  Did you stay away from activities that take you away from your purity?  Did you fall deeper in love with Christ today?

September 19, Thursday

Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Sam Lee of Catalyst Agape Church (New Jersey), was first posted on October 3, 2013.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“The Lies About Us”

Galatians 4:6

“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’” 

I apologize, but I had a strange thought this morning as I meditated on today’s verse. I was wondering if animals, that is, other than human beings, struggle with their identity. As I looked out the window, I saw birds perched on branches and birds flying in the air. Do birds compare themselves to other birds? Do they get jealous because their feathers are not as colorful as the next bird? Does a cat become depressed because they were born a cat and not a dog?

I heard a story about a dog that was convinced by another dog that he was a cat and not a dog. So, this poor dog tried very hard to be a cat. This dog was miserable because no matter how hard he tried to be a cat, he couldn’t do it. He tried to meow and couldn’t do it. He tried to climb trees and couldn’t do it. He tried to eat cat food and hated it. The more effort he put into being a cat, the more miserable he became.  The dog couldn’t be joyful. Why? It was because he believed in a lie. Sometimes believers are like this dog. The devil lies about our identity and we are miserable because we believe in those lies. 

We all have experienced rejection, hurt, and pain, and it is through those negative experiences, the enemy lies about our identity. Those experiences distort our understanding of our heavenly Father and our identity as kingdom heirs, as sons and daughters of God. I want to challenge you today not to believe in those lies. No matter how difficult and how strong the spiritual attacks may come, let’s proclaim the truth!

Our heavenly Father was willing to pay any price in order to save me (Rom. 8:32). My heavenly Father is always ready to meet my needs (Luke 11:11–13). My heavenly Father loves me so much that He is willing to discipline me to bring me to Christian maturity (Prov. 3:11–12; Heb. 12:5–10). Even when I rebel against Him and reject His love, my Father continues to do what is best for me (Rom. 5:8). He does not make His love for me conditional upon my love for Him. He loves me even when I am not loving Him (1 John 4:19). He has made me His heir and reserves a home for me in heaven (Rom. 8:15–17). 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to discern and deny the lies that envelop my identity that robs me of true joy and peace available in the finished work of God.  Thank You for Your grace through which I’ve already received, in abundance, everything that I ever need. Amen.   

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 16


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 8:15-17: 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. From Romans 8:15-17, what are some blessing of being adopted as a true child of God? From these blessings, circle the one that touches your heart the most.
  2. Describe briefly where you are in the journey of knowing God as your Father.

Note:

  1. We no longer need to fear; we are heirs of God; we are co-heirs with Christ; we can call God our Father; we are children of God, etc.
  2. Personal response

Evening Reflection

As you wrap up this day, did anything happen that made you feel vulnerable, weak or fearful?  Were you insulted? Did you hear any news that may affect your future? Review your day here.

September 18, Wednesday

Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Kate Moon who has been serving in E. Asia for many years, was first posted on December 30, 2014.

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Importance of Advisors in Our Lives”

Proverbs 31:1-4

“The sayings of King Lemuel – an oracle his mother taught him: ‘O my son, O son of my womb, O son of my vows, do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings.  It is not for kings, O Lemuel – not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer.”

I never used to be very interested in government or politics until I started watching a T.V. show called “The West Wing.”  At first, when people would tell me that it was about the White House, my interest would fade instantly. But one Christmas, when I was visiting my sister, she wanted to catch up on some episodes, and so I watched with her.  It’s since become one of my favorite shows of all time. Though I’m still actually not all that interested in government or politics, I am a little more than before.

One thing I had never thought about before, but the show brought to life, was how much the President must rely on his Cabinet members.  It was always very clear who was ultimately in authority, but the advisers played such key roles in influencing the decisions he would make that would affect the whole country.  He was able to be a better President because of the quality team he had advising him.

In today’s passage, we see a very different kind of national advisor at work.  The advice she gives to the king is not that of a general on military strategy or a diplomat on international relations, but that of a mother to a son, on matters that would seem more to do with personal character than governing a nation.  But for a leader, these two are inseparable, as this wise mother understood. How many a leader has failed because of the influence of ungodly women? Is it really appropriate for a king to drink to the point his judgment is impaired when his decisions affect an entire nation?

What kind of advice do we seek to live by today?  We may read books written by specialists, hire financial advisors, watch YouTube videos on an endless variety of “how to” subjects.  But do any of these advise us about our character? How to live our lives in such a way that we are kept from wrong influences or in the right condition to be able to make the best decisions?

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the godly advisors You have placed in my life.  Help me to pay attention to their advice that my character may be formed in the right way.  Let this be a main priority and concern of mine today. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 15


Lunch Break Study

Read Proverbs 31:4-9:  “It is not for kings, O Lemuel — not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, 5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. 6 Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! 7 Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. 8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. 9 Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is the function / effect of drinking? (v. 5, 6-7)
  2. What is the responsibility of a leader? (v. 5, 8-9)
  3. Why is it inappropriate for a leader to drink too much (v. 4-5)?  How does this study affect how I think about drinking? Am I willing to let what the Bible says about its effects influence my point of view?

Notes

  1. Drinking makes a person forget.  Those going through a hard time may look to it to forget their troubles, but it can also cause a leader to forget important things he needs to remember.
  2. To defend the rights of the oppressed, destitute, poor and needy; as well as to remember God’s laws (godly principles for us today) that defend these people and fairly judge accordingly.
  3. Drinking too much can impair right judgment, yet being able to judge rightly is one of the main responsibilities of a leader.  Regardless of whether we drink some or not at all, all believers should be able to receive this teaching on the effects that drinking can have and take heed.

Evening Reflection

How is my character?  Did I exercise self-control and good judgment in the way I lived my life today?

September 17, Tuesday

Today’s AMI QT blog, provided by Pastor Barry Kang of Symphony Church (Boston), was first posted on March 11, 2014.

Devotional Thought for Today

“The Antichrist”

1 John 2:18-23 (ESV)

Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. 26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. 28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. 

The word “antichrist” evokes different imageries in our minds.  For me, the movie entitled The Omen immediately came to mind, which terrified me in my youth (I don’t recommend that you watch it) because the central figure in the flick is the Beast (i.e., the Antichrist of Revelation).  However, Apostle John, being the only New Testament writer to actually use the term “antichrist,” refers here to anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ. 

I am convicted by this thought, for the word “antichrist” should primarily evoke a sense of urgency in regard to missions, rather than fear and discouragement.  The spirit of the antichrist is real. There are many people around us who deny that Jesus is the Christ. They may be sincere in their beliefs and may even live “good” lives.  However, John is quite clear that you cannot have the Father except through the Son. If we accept this biblical reality, then our hearts must burst with the desire to proclaim the Son to all who deny it.

Prayer: Father, please use us to combat antichrists wherever we may find them.  Help us to declare that Jesus is the Christ and all that this signifies. Help us to live lives full of your light so that we may be part of Your dispelling of darkness.  In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 14


Lunch Break Study  

Read Romans 10:9-15: [If] you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is required for someone to be saved?
  2. What is our role in God’s work of salvation?
  3. Is there someone that God is calling you to share the good news with today?

Notes

  1. Believe!  The way Paul describes it here is so simple, but it’s the truth.  One only needs to believe the truth of the gospel:  Jesus died on the cross for our sins; that God raised him from the dead; and that Jesus is Lord of their life. 
  2.   Our role is to preach the gospel.  The way Paul puts it, it is as if people will not believe or know the gospel unless believers are sent out to preach it to them.  God can certainly do miracles and bring people to salvation without us, but that’s not what He decided to do; instead, God has sovereignly assigned this work to the church so that, through the Holy Spirit, she can be salt and light to the world.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

The spirit of the antichrist is present wherever people deny that Jesus is the Christ.  How might you battle this spirit this week? Is there someone that God is asking you to pray for?