July 29, Saturday

Jennifer Kim, a graduate of Boston University, spent a year in Shanghai as one-year intern from 2013-14.  She is currently serving as a staff at Catalyst Agape Church (New Jersey) while attending Alliance Theological Seminary.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Overcoming Fear to Serve God

Exodus 4:1-12

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” 2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 3 And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” 6 Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. 9 If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.” 10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.

While many have heard the testimony of my time serving in Shanghai, not as many people know about the long two-year journey I had wrestling with God before I obeyed Him to serve overseas. On a regular Friday night worship service, our church was singing the song, “How Great is Our God,” and while I was meditating upon the words, I was so encompassed by the truth of the lyrics of how majestic and awesome our God is. Captured by His presence, I prayed to the Lord, “There is nothing more that I want than to serve the awesome God You are for the rest of my life.” Immediately after, I heard the Lord say to me, “Then will you go.” While this was one of the greatest moments of my faith, it also became one of my most shameful moments, because while I had just prayed this prayer of submission to the Lord, the moment God asked me to go overseas a fear came upon me, and all I could say was, “God I can’t do that.”

In today’s passage, Moses encounters the living God through a burning bush, and immediately after, the Lord commissions Moses to go to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from Pharaoh. While Moses is in the midst of God’s presence and given this incredible calling to be used by God, he wonders how he could be used for such a task as this, sharing all his doubts to the Lord. Yet the Lord addresses all of Moses’ fear by telling him exactly what to say to Pharaoh (3:13-22), by showing him miracle after miracle to show His incredible power (4:1-7). God even eases Moses’ insecurity regarding his inability to speak by allowing him to bring his brother Aaron (4:13-17).

My greatest insecurity regarding God’s commission to serve the Lord overseas was my fear of leaving my comfort zone, as well as the reaction of my non-Christian parents. For the next year, God addressed all of those insecurities when I had to be re-located to another state for a job and saw God’s amazing provision in my life, and when my parents gave me their full blessing to serve in China. While I had never asked God to ease these insecurities, He showed me powerfully that He is the God of miracles and the sustainer of our lives, and thus I could trust that He would be with me in Shanghai.

God has called each and every one of us to serve His Kingdom. We may struggle through fear and doubt, but I want to encourage you today to be honest about these fears. Ask God to show you His provision and grace, so that you may align yourself to God’s calling over your life. For: “God will supply all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

Prayer: God, what an amazing privilege it is to join Your Kingdom work. Help me to surrender my fears to You so that I may serve faithfully in all that You ask of me. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 5-6

 

July 22, Saturday

The AMI QT Devotionals July 17-23 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

“Don’t Just Do Something… Sit There”

Luke 10:38-42

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Young blond man reading the Bible with bright green background

According to Barna Research, after conducting a national survey with the question “Do you read the Bible at least once a week?” the Baby Boomer generation (55+) chimed in at 49%. The millennials were the lowest group, coming in at 24%. Now I don’t know how exact those numbers are, but one thing I can say with confidence: we are currently living in the least Bible-reading generation since the printing press made the Bible available to the public.

Ironically, our information intake has skyrocketed. A study[1] conducted eight years ago showed that the average person consumes about 100,000 words a day. Since then, with the explosion of the social media, that number has grown to around 150,000. Despite the 50% increase in information we are soaking in, we are reading the Word less and less.

But not all of this is necessarily due to an antagonistic view towards God’s Word. Most people (including Christians) simply don’t read books anymore. Our culture is shifting away from reading books and moving towards faster-paced articles and news snippets, designed to give us an adrenaline shot of information. Perhaps we need to take a cue from Mary the sister of Martha. Despite the pressures of all the things she needed to accomplish, and the fast-paced lifestyle exemplified by Martha, she slowed down and sat at Jesus’ feet.

The truth is, in this information saturated culture, when we fail to slow down and sit at Jesus’ feet, reading His Word… we will inevitably miss out on the intimacy of knowing God in the stillness. Today, spend some time slowing down and spending time in stillness at the feet of Jesus.

Prayer

Holy Spirit, help me to slow down for the sake of sitting at Your feet. Help me to see that although there may be a lot of good things going on around me, only “one thing is necessary,” and that is to know You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

[1] https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/the-american-diet-34-gigabytes-a-day/?utm_source=Cultural+Commentary&utm_campaign=85f91e2825-Man+stops+talking+for+17+years&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_51f776a552-85f91e2825-273784321&mc_cid=85f91e2825&mc_eid=1d719dca7f

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 21-22

 

July 20, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals July 17-23 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

Unity in Christ

Galatians 3:26-29

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Back in 2010, I attended a mission trip in rural China with a small team, including the head pastor of the church I was attending at that time. It was a humbling experience to meet the over 50 Chinese house church leaders who had gathered to receive training from our team. Our team consisted of a few college students (I had just graduated from college), and our lead pastor, yet there we were in rural China, teaching and equipping underground church leaders who were old enough to be my grandparents and had withstood the hardships of government persecution. Needless to say, our lead pastor did most of the teaching/preaching.

It happened on the second day. During one of the teaching sessions, we were ambushed and raided by the police. They kicked down the door of the barn-house we were meeting in, and arrested my lead pastor. They shoved him into a police car and drove off without a word. Chaos ensued and my team and I began to panic. Many of the Chinese church leaders began packing their belongings in order to flee to a safer place. We had nowhere to go. It was then that I noticed around 30 of the church leaders who remained seated. They weren’t packing or leaving. Their hands were raised in intercession for my pastor. One of the women pulled me aside and said something I’d never forget: “When you suffer, we all suffer, because we are family.” I began to tear up, because until that moment I had never experienced such beautiful unity in the body of Christ. In nearly every way I was different from these house church leaders. I was younger, I spoke a different language, I came from a different country/culture. And yet, in Christ, we were bonded. We were one!

Ultimately, my pastor ended up being released from prison after just one day. However much we actually taught the Chinese church leaders, I will never forget the love they showed our team. They risked their own safety for the sake of remaining with us and interceding for us during a time of trial and persecution. That is the kind of unity that Paul wished upon the Galatian churches when he said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

This morning, spend some time praying for your church, that in Christ, there would be unity that is able to overcome any hardship.

Prayer: Father, build and strengthen the unity of Your church. Protect us from becoming divided. May we embrace those who feel isolated. Thank You that the bond of Christ’s blood is stronger than any dividing force. Especially during trials and hard times, teach us to lay our lives down for one another. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 19


Lunch Break Study

Read John 17:20-21: I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Questions to Consider

  1. This is from a passage that is known as Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. Who is Jesus praying for here?
  2. What is Jesus praying for here?
  3. What seems to be the purpose for Jesus asking God the Father for this kind of unity?

Notes

  1. You may need to look at the immediate context in order to see this more clearly, but Jesus is actually praying for all future believers/Christians, “for those who will believe in me….” This portion of His prayer is not only for His current disciples, but also for those to come. In other words, He is praying specifically for us!
  2. Jesus prays that we would have unity. Amazingly, He refers to His own perfect unity with the Father as the example of the type of unity that He wants us to have, that “they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you.” Furthermore, Jesus prays, “that they also may be in us.” This is an incredible statement implying that Jesus intends the church to not only be united within itself, but also profoundly united with the Triune God Himself.
  3. Jesus ends this thought by saying, “So that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Unity is not merely an end in itself. The unity of the church is a vehicle for God’s will to be done, that the world would come to know and believe in Jesus.

Evening Reflection

Our nation is arguably more divided than it has ever been before. Amidst all the chaos and disunity manifesting in politics and social media, let us pray that the Church would lead the way in demonstrating a flavor of unity that is only possible by the blood of Christ.

July 13, Thursday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by Pastor Jason Sato of OTR, Cincinnati.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Welcomed by God

Mark 2:1-4 (ESV)

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. [2] And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. [3] And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. [4] And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.

Many of us are familiar with the story of the paralyzed man who was lowered through a roof.  The faith of his friends seems central to the miracle and, of course, it is important.  Yet what often goes less appreciated is the incredible hospitality of Jesus.

Prior to our passage, Jesus is constantly surrounded by people, whether in the city or even in desolate places.  He returns home to Capernaum for some much needed rest (v. 1), but then the world discovers His hideout and fills every corner of His private space.  And when the four friends of the paralytic make a large hole in Jesus’ roof, He notices first their incredible faith.

At times, we are tempted to believe that we are a nuisance to God—He is busy and we are unimportant, even apart from our sin and rebelliousness.  But Jesus opens His home, gladly gives us His time.  He is attentive to our needs and delights in opportunities to minister to us.

Of course, there are other times when we are too busy for Him.  Yet in these times, Jesus stands at the door and knocks.  To anyone who opens the door, He offers to share a fellowship meal with them.

This morning, the offer of God still stands.  Jesus is available for those who seek Him. And He is knocking and calling for those of us who are not.  Child of God, He is waiting for you.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I love You.  I love Your presence.  I love that You are my God and I am Your child.  Give me grace to bring all that is on my heart and mind to You.  Free my heart to seek and find You. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 11


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 11:9-13 (ESV): And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. [10] For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. [11] What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; [12] or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? [13] If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Question to Consider

  1. Why does the Father command us to ask, seek, and knock?
  2. What will the Father certainly give us when we ask for it?
  3. Why does the Father give this gift?

Notes

  1. The Father commands us to ask, seek, and knock because He will (and wants to!) answer our prayers.
  2. The Father will give His Holy Spirit to those who ask.
  3. The Father loves to give good gifts to His children, so He wants to give the gift of His presence to us through the Holy Spirit.

Evening Reflection

Reflect on your day.  What worries and concerns did you remember?  What joys and blessings did you experience?  Share these things with the Father.

July 6, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals from July 3-8 are written by Andy Kim.  Andy, a graduate of Northwestern University, has recently completed his M.Div. at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is currently serving as a staff at Radiance Christian Church in San Francisco (and also soon to be married 😊).

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 14:7

 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Growing up, there were two things I feared: heights, and my father calling my full Korean name in that tone. That could only mean I had messed up to the point of no return. From growing up in such a success and performance driven environment, the fear I still battle with to this day is that of failure. My fear continued to grow because success was always relative to a worldly standard— one I could never achieve because there was always something more to do, someone better than me. When I think about the word fear, I can only have a negative reaction to it. So imagine my confusion when I read passages that tell us to “fear” God. How can one fear God? How can that be good?

Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation, wrestled with the biblical meaning of “fearing God” by making a distinction between two types of fear: servile fear and filial fear. He defined the first as a prisoner in a torture chamber afraid of his jailer or a slave in the hands of a malicious master; while a filial fear (from which we get the word ‘family’ in Latin) is like the fear a child has for his father. In both cases fear is the response to a source or, in these examples, a person. The first is in regard to a malicious master, and the second is to a loving father. In the second case, the child is afraid to displease his father out of love and respect, leading to a sense of reverence and awe for him. Because of this, the child wishes to please his father for the sake of respect. In fact, the word fear is always found in the context of reverence and worship as a response to God’s glory and majesty. Unlike the servile fear of failure I struggled with, we can find freedom in the fear that God commands us. It is fear based on the loving yet glorious character of God, a God who deems us worthy and pleasing through the standard that was fully met through Christ.

Luther concludes by warning us to not take advantage of this grace and slip into a casual relationship with God. To fear the Lord is to have a sense of awe and reverence to Him while at the same having a personal intimacy through Christ. May we fear Him and give Him glory. May we find freedom from the fear of man as we seek to glorify Him.

Prayer: Jesus, we thank You for making a way to the Father. We confess that many times we take advantage of the grace You showed us. Lord restore our sense of awe for You while deepening our intimacy with You. Help us to live this day seeking to give You glory in all that we do. May it not be out of a servile fear, but a filial fear knowing that you are indeed a good Father. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Exodus 17:6: “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Numbers 20:8-12: “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him. 10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Compare these two similar accounts of God commanding Moses to give the Israelites water.
  2. What can we glean from these two passages?
  3. How does this apply to you? Do you find yourself comparing past experiences to what God is doing today?

Notes

  1. The most notable difference is God’s response to Moses in the second account. It seems that even after Moses strikes the rock as he did in the first one, God accuses Moses of disbelief. In the first passage, God calls Moses to strike the rock to produce water; while in the second, God calls Moses to speak to the rock. Instead of speaking, Moses strikes the rock, this time doing so twice and repeating what he did in the past.
  2. God doesn’t want us to trust in our past experiences. Many times we can find ourselves comparing ourselves to our past experiences and trying to chase after them in our present. We don’t realize that when we do this, we could be robbing ourselves of what God is trying to teach us today. Experience-driven Christianity can lead to a weak faith. God doesn’t want us to chase after our past, but to chase after Him. When we seek Him, new experience will come. Note: God does mention throughout the Scriptures to remember the past. But these are in context to remember who God is and His promises, and so experiences should only strengthen our faith in who He is.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

W. Tozer, a renowned American pastor in the mid-20th century, said, “I want the presence of God Himself, or I don’t want anything at all to do with religion… I want all that God has or I don’t want any.” Spend some time reflecting on this thought. Surprisingly, we can get caught up with chasing after experiences at the cost of seeking God’s presence. Take a moment to simply be still in His presence. Perhaps even ask God that He would reveal Himself in a new and fresh way.

July 1, Saturday

The AMI QT devotionals from June 26-July 2 are provided by Cami King.  Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, recently completed her M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary.  She is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh. 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Heavenly Help in the War

Revelation 12:7-12

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,

“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. 12 For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”

One of the many sermon podcasts to which I listen weekly is from a pastor in Chicago. Recently he talked about the reality of angelic protection over the people of God. He told stories from his youth that led him to believe firmly in angels and their active protection in his life. One story was of a time he was being bullied at school when, seemingly out of nowhere, the bully appeared terrified and began backing up, as though he were seeing something Charlie (the pastor) couldn’t see, then ran away. I guess only Charlie and God really know what happened in that movement (and also the bully, I suppose), but he is fully persuaded that there was a heavenly being (an angel) protecting and defending him that scared off his attacker.

When I was in high school, my father was pretty sick and in the hospital for a while, and my family was really scared. He had to have a pretty risky surgery, and we weren’t sure how things were going to turn out. There was a stranger who came to see us in the hospital one day and spoke the kindest and most encouraging words to our family. He reminded us that God was with us and assured us that things would be OK. He said some other things to my parents that I didn’t hear and then left. We were so uplifted and strengthened in heart, but we were also so caught off guard that we didn’t even ask him his name. So my mom sent me running out right behind him to ask, but he was gone—I mean, this man was literally nowhere to be found. No one at the nurse’s station had seen anyone come or go for quite some time. No one knew of any guests fitting the description I gave. To this day I wonder if he was a messenger from the Lord.

Our passage today reminds us that there is a heavenly host fighting a spiritual war on our behalf. God has deployed His angels to fight and win the victory over our Accuser and Deceiver, Satan. And their victory is sure! I don’t know too much about angels and how they operate in the world today, but what I do know is that God has an army of heavenly beings on His side, and somehow together they are working all things for our good and God’s glory. Not only this, but the whole earth rejoices at their victory and our salvation from sin and freedom from the reign of the Enemy. It’s an incredible scene. Let us take courage! The Lord and His angels and even all of creation are on our side.

Prayer: Almighty God, help me to remember just how much help You’ve given me today. Not only the greatest Helper (Your Holy Spirit) and the community of believers (the Church), but also the Heavenly Hosts are for me because You, Father, are for me.  Thank You for that truth. May it strengthen my heart today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Timothy 3-4

 

June 24, Saturday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 19-25 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland.  Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles).  He is married to Christina.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 10:5-7

Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven,  6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, 7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.

Over the last few years, I have been attending a lot of weddings. Watching this couple whom I’ve known since their freshmen year, thinking about all the things that they struggled through and overcome, how they have grown in faith, and how they continue to fight the good fight even now, has been such a blessing. It has reminded me of so many good times we’ve shared, but also, the dark times we treaded together, trusting in the Lord. This is one of my favorite parts of pastoring—walking through the different seasons of life together. But as many of you can probably relate, this also means confronting many situations where we are left thinking, “Why did this happen, Lord?” or “I believe You are good no matter what, but why is this really necessary?” And unfortunately, there is no cleanly packaged answer to these questions.

We see in the passage this grand angel of the Lord that we are introduced to at the beginning of this chapter, and He who lives forever and ever makes an oath. The angel declares that there will be no more delay, that the mystery of God is finished. Commentators note that when we read mystery of God, it doesn’t primarily mean something hidden or kept secret, but rather it means act of divine knowledge being revealed to man. Paul similarly talks about the mystery of God in Ephesians as the revelation that Jews and Gentiles are now fellow heirs and members of the same body. The angel declares in the Name of the Lord that these things will come to a finish, that is, to completion.

Brothers and sisters, take heart, for there will come a day where all the questions of your heart will be answered. There will come a day where all the things you have been through, including all that you have suffered and endured, will find its answer. There is a finality to these things. And although that ending should cause the unrepentant to fear, for those who are in Christ, it is the moment that we have been longing for.

Prayer: Father, thank You that not only my life, but all of history has been in Your hands. Thank You that all that has happened and will happen has been according to Your perfect plan. Help me to live not as one bogged down by what I see right before me but live with the hope of what is to come in mind. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Haggai 1-2