September 13, Monday

REPOST Today’s QT Devotional—first posted on March 11, 2015—is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, who in the past has served as a staff at several AMI churches.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).

Devotional Thought for this Morning

“What Wrong with You?”

1 Sam. 15:12

And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.

Every time I read this passage I think, “What is wrong with Saul?  He totally fell off the wagon and is setting up idolatrous images of himself,” similar to Nebuchadnezzar’s statue (Dan. 3) or the golden calf (Ex. 33).  In other words, I start to self-righteously judge Saul, thinking, “I could never do such an idolatrous thing like that.”  But as I read this passage more carefully, I realize that the Bible never says that this monument was supposed to function as a center of idolatry, worshiping Saul.  It simply says a “monument for himself.” It could have simply been a pile of rocks celebrating his victory over the Amalekites.  In that light, I realized that not only do I set up monuments for myself, but our society is preoccupied with self-monuments.  Think about it:  Why do people write their names in wet concrete?  Why do teenagers who are “in love” carve their names together in trees?  Why are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. so popular?  Why does every architect dream of designing a New York skyscraper?  I could go on and on.  

Maybe I am being too philosophical, but I think our fascination with building monuments has something to do with man’s inner desire to last forever.  We know we are mortal, but we don’t want to be forgotten after we leave this world.  This is not all bad either.  I believe that our desire to last forever stems from the fact that we are made in the image of God who is, among many other things, eternal.  But in the end, I see two shortcomings in Saul in 1 Sam. 15:  First, Saul’s desire to build a monument for himself was based on vanity.  You see this by the way Samuel rebukes him in 15:17: “Though you were once little in your own eyes…”—implication being that Saul was once humble but became self-centered.  Second, Saul wasn’t building an eternal monument.  I challenge anyone to find this monument that Saul set up; you won’t, because it’s long been destroyed.  Of course, we know that there is a place where we can build up treasures or monuments, if you will, that will last forever (Matt. 6), but in order to set up a storehouse there, we cannot think vainly of ourselves.   

This morning ask yourself, am I building up monuments for myself?  If so, how long do you want or think these monuments will last?  Are there monuments that you could be building that will last forever?  Are you willing to give up vain glory to build up these eternal monuments?  

Prayer: Lord, please give me humility of mind and heart, so that I would think of others over myself.  Also, please guard my heart and help me to invest in things that will last forever, namely your kingdom and the souls of men.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 25


Lunch Break Study

Read Phil. 2:3-11: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Questions to Consider

  1. Based on this passage, how would you define humility?
  2. How did Christ model humility for us?
  3. How did God respond?

Notes

  1. We see that humility includes thinking of others more significantly than ourselves and considering other’s needs above our own.  
  2. Christ demonstrated humility by taking the form of man and then letting mankind put him on a cross.  
  3. God lifted Christ up.  Now, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the Lord.  

Evening Reflection

How much did you think of yourself today?  Did you put the interests and desires of others above yourself?  Did you think about God and did you try to invest in heavenly monuments today?  

September 12, Sunday

UPDATEDToday’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by then (2013) staff of Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan, was first posted on September 21, 2013.  

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Being One with the Triune God”

Psalm 89:26-28

He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ 27 And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. 28 My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.

Jesus didn’t just show up into the New Testament out of nowhere; his appearing had long been foretold through messianic prophecies found throughout the Old Testament, like today’s text.  This is a “messianic” text where, in one sense, it depicts a description of David, yet it also points to Jesus as the firstborn of God and the highest of the kings of earth. This is called a Christological understanding of the Old Testament. 

Within these verses, we are given a glimpse of the dynamics between God the Father and Jesus the Son: Jesus declares who the Father is, and the Father exalts the Son. It is humbling and awesome that God would use His relationship with David, an imperfect human, to foreshadow the relationship between the perfect Son and perfect Father. On a side note, that gives us hope that we don’t need to be perfect for God to use us.

The beauty and wonder of the relationship between the Father and the Son is that we are invited to join into that relationship. In John 17, we read Jesus’ high priestly prayer that just as He and the Father are one, that we would be one with them. 

Today, God is reminding us through His Son, that we are invited into that deep, steadfast love relationship with the Father.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to covet constantly my time with You.  May that consist not of isolated events but a tapestry of precious and continuous moments in the presence of the Triune God.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 24

September 11, Saturday

UPDATEDToday’s Spiritual Food for Thought was first posted on August 20, 2013.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“The Kingdom Characteristics”

Luke 6:12-26

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. 17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. 20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

Three thoughts here:

First, noted that Jesus prayed all night (v. 12) before choosing the Twelve.  Most likely the choosing occurred sometime after Jesus had met with each of them individually.  At that time, anyone who was willing to follow Jesus’ teaching could be labeled as a “disciple” (v. 17).  The number of disciples, therefore, was as many as 72 (Luke 10:1), or an entire crowd (John 6:22, 25, 60).  Certainly, the task of selecting the Twelve could not have been simple since there were many people of diverse backgrounds to choose from.  Perhaps, for that reason, even the Son of God had to pray all night.  Thus, should we not pray before making an important decision?

Second, Luke puts emphasis on anyone who is willing to be Jesus’ follower (v. 20), which shows that the kingdom characteristics are not just for the few and the elite but all Christians (vv. 20-26).  Does your life reflect the kingdom characteristics?  Which one of the characteristics do you need to work on?

Third, we see in verses 24-26 how Jesus characterizes those who are not blessed, which can be summarized as follows: What our culture believes to be good and fortunate is completely opposite of what is considered good and blessed in God’s kingdom.  How does that speak to you?

Prayer: Father, help me to desire the characteristics of Your kingdom so that I may embody them through the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of Your Son.  In addition, please continue to keep America safe from terroristic attacks even as America needs to repent of her many sins.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 22-23

September 10, Friday 

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on November 17, 2013.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning 

“It’s Important What You Remember”

Psalm 106:1-12 (NIV)

 Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise? 3 Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right. 4 Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them, 5 that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise. 6 We have sinned, even as our ancestors did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly. 7 When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. 8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known. 9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert. 10 He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them. 11 The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. 12 Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. 

A pastor once told the following story: “A friend of mine once told me that he went to a training conference where a course was being taught on how to improve your memory. He spent nearly $200 on the books, tapes and worksheets for the course and brought it home. When he arrived at home he stored the course and then went about his daily business. He confessed to me that he has never even started the memory course because he forgot where he stored it and hasn’t been able to find it.”

Let’s face it, we all make promises and resolutions and commitments that we fail to keep (no matter how good our intentions). But God’s word is so reliable, that when He makes a promise, it’s as good as done. No matter how long it takes for Him to accomplish what he promises, we know He will. Let’s stand confidently in the promises of God today! 

Prayer: Lord, motivate and empower me to commit your word and promise to my memory so that I am guided toward the right path in life.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Mathew 21


Lunch Break Study 

Questions to Consider

  1. What is one thing from the Lord of which the Bible is full?
  2. What is one helpful thing to do with the answer to the first question?
  3. What encouraging promises of God have helped you over the years?

Notes

  1. The promises of God can be found throughout Scripture. 
  2. Sometimes it’s helpful to commit to memory these promises so we can keep our hearts hopeful and anticipate God’s movement in our lives and the world. 
  3. My favorite ones are as follow:
  • Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
  • And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
  • If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  • Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).
  • My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19).
  • And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask 

anything according to his will he hears us. (1 John 5:14).


Evening Reflection

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:20a) 

God has made many promises and when we look throughout scriptures we see Him fulfilling them time and time again. And in Christ, He most greatly demonstrated His faithfulness to us. God is trustworthy to keep His promises. We can count on Him! 

September 9, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 18, 2013.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

A Childlike Faith”

Psalm 8:1-2

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens. 2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

Most of us don’t even remember what it was like to be a child.  As grown-ups, we are self-conscious and constantly worrying, but this morning the Lord reminds us to “change and become like little children” (Matt. 18:3-4) so as to embody humility, simplicity (11:25), and innocence (19:13) in our faith.  

Start this day by doing what you usually don’t: Sing a praise!  “God is so good” or “Lord we lift your name on high . . .” Do you worry about what others think about you?  We all do it but ask the Lord to free you from it.  Reflect on this: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17).      

Prayer: Father in heaven, I think that You’re really cool and awesome. I’m so proud and privileged to be called Your son through my older brother Jesus Christ.  LORD, when I take myself too seriously, remind me that I’m a child of God who always has a reason (i.e., Christ) to rejoice.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 20


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Cor. 13:11: When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  1 Cor. 14:20: Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

Questions to Consider

  1. We are told to have a childlike faith.  Should be like children when it comes to thinking?
  2. What are some childish manners that we need to give up (1 Cor. 3:1-4, 14:13-20)?
  3. What is one factor that causes us to remain as an immature child (Heb. 5:11-4)?
  4. What kind of situation tends to stir up our insecurities? 

Notes

  1. No, the Bible doesn’t condone everything about children.  For instance, when it comes to thinking, we are to be adults, children. 
  2. In Corinth, the childish manner referred to an intense argument among the believers overwhom they were following spiritually and theologically. It is akin to Calvinists, Armenians, Pentecostals, and Dispensationalists fighting among themselves. In addition, Paul wanted them to approach the matter of speaking in tongues in the church with more maturity (“In your thinking be adults”). He didn’t want them to just speak in tongues without thinking about how that may affect those who don’t understand or unbelievers who are visiting the church that day (1 Cor. 14:23).
  3. While there may be other factors, Heb. 5 makes it very clear that spiritual immaturity is a result of a lack of biblical knowledge as well as not putting into practice what is learned (Heb. 5:14).  Of course, knowledge without humility puffs us up, which leads to childish actions again (1 Cor. 8:2). 
  4. Our immaturity tends to show up when we don’t quite know what to do with those who make us feel uncomfortable for whatever reasons.  John the Baptist shows that knowing and accepting our limitation and seeing ourselves as a conduit for the advancement of others, will result in a surprising joy! (Jn. 3:26-30).

Evening Reflection

The morning began with a reminder about being childlike in faith.  In view of that, how was your day?  Did you get to laugh today?  Honestly appraising yourself, what type of situation tends to bring out the immaturity in you?  Take a moment to ask the LORD to help you not give into childish ways.  What mindset do we need to cultivate3 (Jn. 3:26-30)?

September 8, Wednesday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Phillip Chen who is associate pastor at Kairos Christian Church in San Diego.  Phil is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Let’s Not be a Foolish Donkey”

1 Kings 3:5-10 (ESV)

At Gibeon, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.

There is an Aesop’s fable of a foolish donkey that had an idol strapped on his back as he was led through the town to deliver the idol. All of the people who saw the idol would bow down in respect and worship. After a while, the donkey believed that it was he that the people were bowing down to in worship. One morning, when the idol was not strapped on his back, he wandered into the towns, expecting to be worshipped by the people. But no one even gave him a second glance. In anger, he demanded worship by those around him, but soon found out that he was, in the end, just a donkey who was undeserving of worship.

Although the focus of this passage is on Solomon’s request for wisdom and understanding in ruling God’s people, he says something very important in this dream that we should not overlook. He declares that it is the Lord God who has given David a seat on the throne over Israel and that it is the Lord God who has made Solomon king over all of Israel.  He hasn’t done anything to earn it. He recounts God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. Surely Solomon would have heard from his father of what happened to Saul and how God could take away his position as king over Israel as quickly as He established him as king. Solomon does not overlook this fact and shows what it means to have wisdom and understanding: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. The understanding of who we are in comparison to God and the brevity of our time on this earth is what helps us approach God with humility. The understanding that everything is but a gift that is given to us by the Lord is an important reminder that we must come back to again and again. 

We can often get caught up with our own accomplishments and think of ourselves higher than we ought to. Let us strive to live a humble life by ascribing glory unto our God rather than deceiving ourselves into believing that glory belongs to us. Solomon, in his early reign, is marked as a man with great wisdom and understanding because of his humility. May it be that we are also described as people with great wisdom and understanding.

Prayer: Father, forgive us for the times we robbed You of Your glory. Too often we tend to wrongly take credit for what You are doing in and through our lives. May we become more and more aware of the times we do this and correct ourselves so that we are correctly ascribing glory to you. You are the One who is truly deserving of all praise and worship! Help us have the wisdom to understand that. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 19


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Chronicles 29:12-16 (ESV):David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,  “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. 

Question to Consider

  1. Where did David give this declaration and why is it important?
  2. What does David mean that they were foreigners and strangers in God’s sight?
  3. David says that everything comes from God’s hands, and all of it belongs to him. What are things in our lives that we need to attribute to Him?

Notes

  1. David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly. Corporate worship and praise is so important because it is one of the most effective avenues to remember the faithfulness and goodness of our God.
  2. David sees the grace of God in that they were once not a people, but now are considered God’s people.  They were once aliens and outcasts, but God has drawn them in.
  3. Opportunities, health, friendships, even the strength to do certain things all are from Him. Everything indeed is from the Lord.

Evening Reflection

As the day ends, spend some time reflecting on your current place in life and the position you are in. Ask God to reveal to you how He has brought you this far and how he continues to sustain you each and every day. As you recount His faithfulness and goodness in your life, give Him the praise and glory He deserves!

September 7, Tuesday

This blog is the second part of Pastor Mark Chun’s miniseries on abortion, first posted on September 8, 2015.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“No One Has the Right to Pollute Our Lungs, Much Less to Expunge the Whole Body of the Unborn”

1 Corinthians 10:12b, 24

“But we do not use this right. . . . 24 ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is beneficial. . . . Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others”

2 Kings 16:2-3 (NIV)

Ahaz . . . followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire.

What conservative churches failed to accomplish, social liberals have done it—making smoking an unconscionable act in public.  Their main argument: Smokers have no right to pollute the air that I breathe since second-hand smoke is hazardous to my health! 

Ironically, one major argument for legalized abortion, advocated adamantly by this anti smoking crowd, is that every woman has a right to control her own body.  So, while social liberals will curb the “rights” of smokers to protect our lungs, most of them will do nothing to protect the whole person in the womb because women have the right to do whatever they want with their body.

This philosophy stems from the ideas of Margaret Sanger who was the original founder of Planned Parenthood. Sanger wrote that women are enslaved through their reproductive powers by men who dictate and control the standards of sex and morality. “No woman” she said, “can call herself free who does not own and control her own body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.”  This seems eerily close to the reasoning that Ahaz must of have had when deciding to sacrifice his own son.  For power and control, there was no price he was not willing to pay.  

As Christians, it is vitally important that we have the right perspective on the issue of abortion.  In the early days of Christianity, a large part of its explosive growth was the fact that it was a haven for women who had given birth to baby girls or simply a baby that seemed weak.  In Roman culture, infanticide was widespread and men forced women to kill unwanted babies through the practice of exposure.  The church was a refuge for these mothers and their newborn children because it recognized the value of life—no matter how small, weak, or helpless.  

Today, Christians are again called to be the protectors of life and to help women see the wonderful gift that God has placed inside their womb.  And those who are considering abortion should remember what God says about so-called “our rights”: “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others” (1 Cor. 12:25b).   

Pray that our lawmakers and civil leaders regain their conscience and present viable laws that will, at least, make abortion “rare” (Hillary Clinton).  May our churches respond to women in crisis by offering a real alternative in conjunction with Christian groups, such as National Right to Life, whose mission is to do just that.  

Prayer: Father, forgive me for being preoccupied only with my life, my family and my church.  Open my eyes not only to the matter of abortion but to other matters, such as poverty and slavery that destroy lives.  Help me to care—beginning today.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today:  Matthew 18


Lunch Break Study

1 Cor. 8: 9-13: But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Ps. 22:10-11: Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. 10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help

Questions to Consider

  1. The Corinthian passage deals with former idol-worshipers who, now, as believers, became stumbled upon seeing Christians eating food that had been sacrificed to idols.   What is Paul’s instruction to these “eaters?”
  2. Extract the main principle from Paul’s inspired instruction and apply it to the argument that every woman has a right to control her own body.  
  3. Ultimately, why is that no one has the right to wipe out that which is in the womb of the mother?

Notes

  1. “Yes, you have the right to eat whatever you want; I said elsewhere regarding food, ‘Nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4).  But there is something more important than eating: acting lovingly toward our brothers and sisters.  Therefore, if what I do (in this case, eating certain foods) makes them stumble, I won’t do it.”
  2. The extracted principle is: I will curb my right to do that which is “permissible” (1 Cor. 10:23) for the good of others.  In other words, seeking the good of others (something legitimate and reasonable, of course) triumphs over the exercise of my rights, particularly when others are affected.  
  3. The phrase, “From my mother’s womb you have been my God,” would make no sense if we are talking about a glob of tissues.  There are two possible objective points from which life can be considered having begun: at conception or birth.  All other alleged points are arbitrary and subjective, including so-called the “age of viability.”  God’s word indicates at conception, and that’s why abortion cannot be morally defensible because it is taking the life of another human being.  

Evening Reflection

By Ryun Chang

Some advocates of abortion are really cleaver.  They say to those who oppose them, “Whereas you are concerned over those who are yet born, you don’t care in the least for those children who have been born.”  Cleaver but not true.  I just googled “Top 10 Domestic Agencies” for adoption and the first three out of 4 agencies listed are Christian: Bethany Christian Service, Gladney Center for Adoption and Nightlight Christian Adoptions. Furthermore, while the appreciation for orphanage has waned over the years, historically, Christians led the charge in providing homes for the orphans (e.g., George Muller).  

No doubt, one powerful expression of valuing all life, whether born or unborn, is adopting orphaned and unwanted children.  I know several Christian families that have provide a loving home for them, and by doing so, they have made the most powerful statement against abortion.  Another way is to sponsor children living in poverty with a monthly support through Christian organizations such as Compassion International or World Vision.  Pray about it. 

“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me” (Matt. 18:5).

September 6, Monday

Editor’s note: President Biden recently stated that life does not begin at conception.  It seems fitting, therefore, to reprint a two-part series on the life of unborn, provided by Pastor Mark Chun who pastors Radiance Christian Church (S. F.). He studied biology at University California, San Diego and completed his Master of Divinity at Talbot School of Theology.

Devotional Thought for this Morning

“Is the One Inside the Womb ‘It’ or ‘He/she’?”

2 Kings 16: 1-6 (NIV)

In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God. 3 He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. 4 He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree. 5 Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem and besieged Ahaz, but they could not overpower him. 6 At that time, Rezin king of Aram recovered Elath for Aram by driving out the people of Judah. Edomites then moved into Elath and have lived there to this day.

While I squirmed over having to present a morning devotional based on a passage dealing with infanticide, we, as followers of a holy God, need to deal with the horrifying nature of sin, head on.

In reading about the reign of King Ahaz, I think most of us would agree with the biblical assessment that this man did evil in the eyes of the Lord.  Faced with the threat of being conquered by his political enemies, Ahaz committed the unthinkable act of sacrificing his son to pagan idols in the hope that they would deliver him from this situation.  His desire to maintain power and control overrode any remnant of moral conscience that this man may have had and became his excuse to commit the inexcusable sin of sacrificing his child.  And it appears that Ahaz’s idols gave him exactly what he desired: he withstood the attack of the armies of Aram and Israel.  However, in the annals of biblical history, this was a victory that felt more like a defeat. 

In 1973, there was another victory that seemed rather hollow because it, too, involved the sacrifice of children in a landmark Supreme Court case known as Roe versus Wade.  Ironically, some who oppose infanticide do an about-face over feticide, which actually is infanticide unless the humanness of the one in the womb, whether 12 or 32 weeks old, is categorically denied.

This morning, I want to be sensitive to those women who have endured the shame of abortion and offer the forgiveness and healing of Christ.  Yet, at the same time, I would like to shed light on this issue.  The advocates for on-demand legalized abortion celebrated the decision as a victory for all women, but they forgot to mention the countless children lost as a result of the verdict.  And since that decision in 1973, over 50 million abortions have been performed in the United States.  Planned Parenthood, an organization that performs most of these abortions, plainly states that one of out of three babies conceived in the United States is deliberately aborted. Over 1 million abortions will be reported in this country this year alone.  These aren’t just numbers but real people who could have been our brothers or sisters, brilliant scientists or outstanding theologians. 

Maybe you have had an abortion?  Confess that sin to Christ and receive His forgiveness and healing.  There is no sin that God won’t or can’t forgive.                                    

(I’ll further address this matter in tomorrow’s QT.)

Prayer: Lord, Your word tells us that You have known us from the very moment we were conceived, and that we were wonderfully and fearfully formed in our mother’s womb.  Help us to understand the sanctity of life and the awesome privilege of having children who bear Your image.    May You protect our marriages, our families, and especially our children as we live against the tides of this culture.  Amen

Bible Reading for Today:  Matthew 17

Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 19:13-15 (NIV): Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. 14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why did the disciples rebuke people for bringing their children to be blessed by Jesus?
  2. What is Jesus’ attitude towards the children?
  3. What does it mean that the kingdom of heaven belongs to children? 

Notes

  1. Ancient cultures held children in low-esteem and did not see it worthwhile to go out of their way for them.  In addition, the disciples were intent on getting to the next place of ministry and saw this interruption as a hindrance.   
  2. Jesus’ attitude is completely opposite of the disciples.  He gladly takes the time to lay hands and to pray for each child.  As believers, we should treat all children with the same attitude that Jesus did—a s special recipients of God’s love even prior to their personal commitment to Christ. 
  3. Childlike dependence and innocent faith are the hallmarks of an authentic relationship with our heavenly Father.   Although there may be room for doubt, cynicism and a critical heart can easily poison our walk with God.  What this verse does not mean is that all children go to heaven. 

Evening Reflection

I read recently a post from a person, who I thought was a committed follower of Christ, stating that he was indifferent to the subject of abortion.  This deeply saddened me because I don’t believe this espouses the heart of God.  Although we don’t want to make hot button topics bigger than they are in relation to the Gospel of Christ, at the same time, we must hold unwavering to a Christian worldview and ethic.  It is important that we think through our position on many cultural and societal matters and hold fast to the Scriptures as our guide.  Take time tonight to ask the Lord to give you clarity on the controversial issues that Christians face and the courage to stand for the truth. 

September 5, Sunday

REPOSTToday’s Spiritual Food for Thought, first posted on April 4, 2015, is provided by Pastor Shan Gian who leads Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan.  Shan is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“A Surprise Ending?”

Luke 24:13-27

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

The ending for some movies is predictable, such as Titanic, but not movies like Shawshank Redemption and The Usual Suspects that were produced in the 1990s.  (Sorry, I guess I’m not that young.)  One reason many moviegoers enjoyed them was not only an incredible plot twist, but the surprise ending that brought everything together—everything finally made sense.  

Moving onto a much more serious venue, I would imagine that Cleopas and his friend had a similar experience on the road to Emmaus.  These two disciples of Jesus were walking along the road, confused about what had transpired over the weekend; this was not the ending that they had anticipated.   Instead of redeeming Israel, they had seen Jesus, whom they thought was the Messiah, beaten and finally crucified.  

Why the miscalculation?  Certainly, God had been telling and weaving an intricate story of redemption.  It went from the Creation to the Fall, to Abraham and the time of the patriarchs, and the Exodus to the Exile.  All throughout Israel’s history, there were prophecies of the Messiah who was to come.  But instead of the Prince of Peace, the Israelites, because they had long suffered at the hands of gentile rulers (such as Grecians and Romans) were looking for a triumphant, militant Jesus.  

Once Jesus came, He said very plainly how He had to suffer first, but it didn’t make sense to the Jews who yearned for a political liberator, not a suffering one!

Here, still in disguise, Jesus shows these two disciples how their misunderstanding of the Scripture led to a false expectation.   He starts with “Moses and all the Prophets” and interprets “all the Scriptures” to them.  And suddenly, Cleopas and his friend started to understand the Scriptures, Jesus’ ministry, and the events on Good Friday—all of which pointed to the death and resurrection of the Jesus “that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory.” This surprise ending gave them great hope and joy! 

As believers today, we have been completely changed and transformed because we know how the story ended.  Knowing the ending changes everything.  We can read the stories and prophecies of the Old Testament and see how it pointed to the Messiah.  We can see the amazing story of God’s grace and the redemption of His people, including us.  But most of all, we can look at our own lives and see that God has woven a story of grace and redemption within us, and because of what Jesus did for us, we know that the ending to our own stories leads to an eternity with our Lord.

Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my eyes on You and Your gracious work done on the cross. I pray that I will be able to celebrate what You are doing in my daily walk.  Fill me with a greater joy as I experience more of You and Your grace.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 16

September 4, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 4, 2014.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“What Jesus Says to You May Shock You”

John 6:66

“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” 

A very uncomfortable truth is presented in John 6.  It involves people who are referred to as “disciples” (Jn. 6:61) and they certainly looked really good on paper.  They spent three days with Jesus (Matt. 15:32; Jn. 6:10-1), seemingly hanging onto his every word.  After seeing the miracle of feeding thousands of people with a few pieces of bread and fish, they “voted” to make Jesus their king (Jn. 6:15).  Early next morning, “they got into the boats and went . . . in search of Jesus” (Jn. 6:24).  We see here all the earmarks of dedicated disciples—so it seemed.

What’s so disturbing is what Jesus ended up saying about them.   The trouble began when Christ told something that did not interest these people, who, feeling hungry, had returned for more free food (Jn. 6:26).  What did he say?  He took what bread represents (staple food) and gave it a new, spiritual meaning:  “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry. . . . Everyone who . . . believes in him shall have eternal life” (Jn. 6:35a, 40b).  In no uncertain terms, Christ made his identity and mission quite clear here:  “I’m what you need in order to be made whole permanently and have true life.  I’m not a military Messiah to usher in a political kingdom (on behalf of the Jews), but a suffering One who will die for your sins.”  Not interested, they left Jesus thereafter.

We also want a Jesus who can help us reach our American dream than address our spiritual needs. To those who held on to the Jewish dream, Jesus said, “You have seen me and still you do not believe” (Jn. 6:36).  If we don’t believe, then, despite all our millions, we are going to die in our sins and end up in Christless eternity, otherwise known as hell.   

Most people who read the AMI QT are probably believers yet struggle with their priorities.  Are you one of them?  Then get on your knees and repent like this . . . 

Prayer: “Christ, I have treated you as one of my means to reach my end; Lord, do whatever it takes to make you the ultimate priority in my life.  Amen.”  

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 14-15