August 12, Saturday

The AMI QT Devotionals for today and tomorrow are provided Jasmin Izumikawa. Jasmin, a member of the Church of Southland, is currently a high school teacher.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Peace in the Midst of Coldness of Life

John 16:32-3

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The coldest and darkest night I experienced was on a mountain in Peru. My sister and I had nearly completed our three-day trek on foot and we stopped to rest for the evening. Each night, our team of hungry and weary travelers met in the communal tent and we listened for our trail leader to update us on the weather and such. We huddled together around a small lamp as he would encourage us, “Claro, claro, we will arrive in time to see the view at sunrise. It is very beautiful. Yes, there will be small train ride.”

He was right about the view—it was beautiful. Although I came to see the ancient ruins, I was more captivated by the sunrise. Light broke over the mountains, blanketing us with intense warmth and with it came these word of Jesus: “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

God’s peace arrives so much like this, doesn’t it? Our current circumstances may be at a steep incline met by chilling winds but we can fully rest knowing that our loving God is with us. Joy and peace of God is not found in our comfort but rather found most intensely in the midst of cold and most sweetly at the height of a mountain.

Be encouraged by these assuring words of our Lord: “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). So, receive God’s joy and peace today and experience His enduring love for you. Take heart, when God requires you to wait out the storm and soon, “your grief will turn to joy” (John 16:20). A popular song in the 90s put it like this: “There is peace in the midst of the storm-tossed life. There is an Anchor, there is a rock to build my faith upon. Jesus Christ is my vessel so I fear no alarm He gives me peace in the midst of the storm.” How precious is that peace and joy that comes from the hand of our LORD!

Prayer: LORD, how marvelous is the lightness of joy and peace You bring. There is nothing more satisfying than this. You have overcome the world and you have won every battle. Thank you, LORD, for being with me.

Bible Reading for Today: John 21 and Haggai 1

 

August 11, Friday

The AMI QT Devotionals from August 7-11 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang who writes about his recent teaching trip to Cuba. 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Can one desire too much of a good thing?” (Shakespeare)

Jeremiah 9:23-4

This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24  but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.

Once, Pastor Barry bought me a scrumptious lobster roll while visiting his Boston church in 2015. Although just thinking about eating another one still whets my appetite, I dare not order a lobster plate at a restaurant because of its prohibitive cost. So, it’s a great irony that I got to eat lobster three times that week in Cuba. While its price (about $2) is still too high for most Cubans (making about $30 a month) to consume, my host spared no expense to feed me well. But, as I was eating yet another lobster tail on my last day in Cuba, I felt neither excited nor craved to eat it. So, “can one desire too much of a good thing”? I would say “yes” and so does the Scripture.

Wealth is highly desired by many but “whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecc. 6:6). Knowledge is coveted as well, and perhaps more so today since opportunity for higher education is readily available and accessible, but, “of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (Ecc. 12:12).

Everyone hopes for close relationships with friend and family, yet one big problem cast a shadow over them, which atheist French philosopher Luc Ferry captures well: “[Man] . . . knows that he will die and that his near ones, those he loves, will die.” Certainly, the Buddhist way of non-detachment can keep us from being hurt by the loss of love ones, but Ferry would have none of it: “Not only am I unable to prevent myself from forming attachments, I have no wish to do so.” I agree, but where I break with him is this: While this atheist is unwilling to believe God, choosing instead a life that he calls “a love of wisdom” (a life of open and honest dialogues), I choose a life of boasting about a God whose greatest expression of love toward us is found in His Son Christ.

Let us, therefore, stay vigilant so that we don’t allow our love for other things—whether it be wealth, knowledge, or even our loved ones, which will all ultimately disappoint us—to detach us from loving God, for “my heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee” (Augustine).

Prayer: Lord, what is life apart from knowing and being known by You? What meaning of life can I have apart from knowing that You love me personally. How unfathomable is it that You spared no expense in allowing Your Son to die in my stead so that I may have life. Thank You.
Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 20


Lunch Break Study

Read Proverb 30:8-9: “. . . give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’”; Prov. 23:4: “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.”

1 Cor. 8:1 b, 3: This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. . .. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is another reason for which wealth can be desiring too much of a good thing (1 Tim. 6:9- 10)?
  2. What is another reason for which knowledge can be desiring too much a good thing?
  3. Should we stop trying to garner wealth and knowledge? How do Solomon and Paul, respectively, admonish us on this matter?

Notes

  1. The Proverb writer warns that too much wealth can produce the type of arrogance that leads to mitigating the importance of God in our lives. It always begins with the erosion of our dependence on God (money replaces him) that ultimately results in self-autonomy.
  2. The apostle Paul warns that too much knowledge can lead to being puffed up; that is, feeling and acting superior to those who have not accumulated as many degrees and attended as prestigious schools as they have. No one wants to be around those people!
  3. The writer admonishes us to seek wisdom that can curb our desire for more. Wisdom is to know whether our present faith and character is stable and mature enough to handle additional wealth and/or degrees. It is better to postpone our pursuit until we are ready. Paul admonishes us to prize being known by God above all things (instead of being known by your pedigree).

Evening Reflection

In the years past, Rich Mullins’ “Awesome God” was sung at many churches like an anthem to the Lord (https://goo.gl/F9QFUP). I invite you to sing along with this great declaration of our awe of God as a fitting way to end this day. Worship Him! Then, “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).

August 10, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals from August 7-11 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang who writes about his recent teaching trip to Cuba. 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

2 Tim. 2:1-2 (NIV 1984)
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”

One word aptly describes the Korean-Argentian missionary who invited me to teach at the semiary where she operates with her Latino husband: overworked. Because everyone who comes there to teach for a week is Korean pastors, she must translate all their handouts to Spanish prior to their coming as well as interpret for them while they teach. So, my time there became half vacation for her but not by much since she prepared all my meals (Korean) while tending her two active daughters (2 and 4). Apparently, she is the only one in her organizaiton of 350+ missionaries who can do what she does.

One afternoon, the missionary commented how encouraging it was for her and the students to see that I came with an apprentice for training purpose, because it showed the importance of producing those who are able to teach others and how to go about doing it. She was referring to Jonathan, a staff at Radiance Christian Church (S.F.), who was part of my cohort group for 10 weeks. A native of Bolivia, he is exploring possibilies of serving the Lord abroad, but on this trip he did more than that. He was not only a tremendous blessing to the Cuban students but to me as well since his several hours of instruction gave me a chance to breathe in what was a grueling pace, particularly from Tuesday to Thursday (15 sessions in 18 hours/all told 19 sessions in 23 hours). Jonathan also prepared the test (41 questions) and graded them (all 71).

Just going to Cuba to teach was a great privilege but training Jonathan was what made it fun. I had even more fun when Pastor Hugo whom I trained while serving in Mexico got connected to this seminary: he is going there to offer one my courses later this year.

Do you serve the Lord in any capacity? Then, invest whatever you have received from the Lord—knowledge, skill, and/or money—into all those up-and- coming who desire to serve God; that is, “Produce reliable men who are qualified to teach others.” Thus, I was happy to report to Pastor Mark, Jon’s boss, this: “Jon showed all the earmarks of having the potential to become a dynamic and passionate teacher of God’s Word.” Now, that’s a lot of fun!

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the things that have been given to me. I also thank You for all the people who have invested into my life so that I can be productive for you and in life. Motivate me to give it back, especially to young people, so that they can serve with great effectiveness.

Bible Reading for Today: John 19


Lunch Break Study

Read Rom. 15:14: I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Lk. 19:20-4: Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’

Questions to Consider

  1. Someone said, “You can’t give what you don’t possess.” With respect to teaching, what are some prerequisites to be able to produce reliable men who are qualified to teach others?
  2. Ultimately, why is God not pleased when we don’t share with others what He has given us?
  3. What are some common excuses to justify why we do not try to reproduce ourselves? Pray about investing yourself into the life of a person who has the need for what you have.

Notes

  1. Two of the prerequisites are character (as indicated by “full of goodness) and knowledge. Without character, no one may want to learn from you; without knowledge, no one would feel the need to learn from you.
  2. Not sharing with others what God has given us shows that we are lazy at best and greedy at worst. The operative word is stewardship: we must faithfully manage what is given to us so that others may benefit from the investment God has made in our lives.
  3. The unfaithful servant in the parable had the gall to lay the blame on God Himself, presenting him as unfair and unprincipled man. Some of the excuses among us may be: “I’m not ready yet,” “It’s not the right time” (Hag. 1:2); “Someone better can do it”. The truth: we prioritize going up higher and getting more (often at the expense of others) above serving God.

Evening Reflection

Pastor Hugo probably spent more than 1,000 hours with me in the classroom over a period of 8 years; also, he often came to my house for further instruction. I sent him out to churches and schools in and outside of our city to teach my courses. He continues to impart them, including Greek which he has introduced to a college in Indiana that has a program for Hispanics. As for me, I feel a lot of joy, satisfaction, and gratitude toward the Lord.

I invite you to pray about giving yourself to someone who wants to learn from you. “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’”
(Acts 20:35 b ).

August 9, Wednesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from August 7-11 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang who writes about his recent teaching trip to Cuba. 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

One Thing You Need Not Worry About in Cuba: Choosing

1 Tim. 6:6-9 (ESV)

But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

While touring Havana, seeing even a single ad on the wall felt out of place; there really isn’t any need for advertising since products made by the Cuban government only come in one brand and size. Instead of choosing, you just line up and receive your monthly ration at the nearest bodega (warehouse). A family of four, for instance, is allotted one pound of chicken for an entire month but at a very low price. As for housing, once you build a house on land given by the government, you stay there indefinitely. When your daughter marries, her husband then moves into her room unless they have money to build a structure next to or above her parents’ house.

The life in America, of course, is vastly different. A man told a story of walking into a store to buy a pair of socks, but having to choose the right one from more than 300 varieties of socks felt challenging.  Some came with elaborate illustrations such as: “Shock-Woven elastic arch brace contours to arch, providing additional support and normal articulation of the bones in the foot, while keep sock migration minimal”. Bewildered, the man asked the saleswoman, “What if I wanted to walk, jog or play racquetball, but don’t want to get a different sock for each activity?” The woman answered, “It’s really a matter of personal preference.” Meaning what? Whatever benefit you may gain by wearing the socks of your choice is psychological but certainly not performance enhancing. For investors, does it really matter what mutual fund you buy out of more than 10,000 today, up from 3,347 in 1992 and 564 in 1980? Even monkeys can choose stocks which perform better than professional brokers’ (look it up).

My stay in Cuba wasn’t long enough to personally discover what life is really like there, apart from what I was told—not easy, at least materially. But life in America has its own challenges: spoiled by all the choices we have and anxiety over inconsequential choices we make, we are often caught in the snare of discontentment and living above our means, resulting in debt and its concomitant worries. Heed, therefore, Paul’s warning: Choose a simple lifestyle in which our basic needs are adequately met; don’t chase after that which we cannot take with us after we die. Ultimately, choose to seek first the kingdom of God (Mt. 6:33).

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for allowing me to live in America, a land of plenty and limitless opportunity. I desire Your wisdom so that I do not turn your blessing into a trap of spiritual compromise and unfaithfulness. May I live simply so that I can do more of Your work. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 18


Lunch Break Study

Read Joshua 24:14-5: “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 

Mt. 7:13-4: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Questions to Consider

  1. If Joshua were asked what is the most consequential choice in life, what would he say?
  2. While the metaphor of the narrow gate may be intended for salvation (Lk. 13:23-4), its principle may certainly be applied to Christian living. With respect to all the choices that we have at our fingertips, what would it mean to “enter by the narrow gate” (1 Cor. 7:29-35)?
  3. Putting your lifestyle and finances under a microscope, are they simple and healthy enough for you to serve God freely, or are they too materialistic and unstable to mute that question?

Notes

  1. Joshua would say unequivocally that the most consequential choice in life is whether or not to serve God wholeheartedly. And it doesn’t matter whether one lives in Cuba or America. It may even be harder in America because there are so many distractions.
  2. The apostle Paul, under the Inspiration, makes an interesting comment in 1 Cor. 7:30-1: “Those who buy something, [live] as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them.” To enter by the narrow gate means saying no to materialism and consumerism, so that we can “be devoted to the Lord”.
  3. If the way your life is arranged isn’t conducive to serving the Lord, start making small changes. Don’t buy things you don’t need on credit. Reduce the number of vacations you take yearly. Use the money and time you save to serve the Lord: meaningful mission trips, helping the poor, buying evangelistic tracts to aid your personal evangelism, etc.

Evening Reflection

This morning we talked about the difference between having no choice and having too many. If you have read thus far, I would say you have made a wise choice. What did you have to do to get here? Did you get rid of all distraction or obligation first, such as work or study? Many have not yet gotten here because they are still at it. Ask the Lord to strengthen your desire and ability to wisely use God-given freewill so that you always choose that which is edifying and constructive to the glory of God. Remember Paul’s warning: “‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is constructive” (1 Cor. 10:23).

August 8, Tuesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from August 7-11 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang who writes about his recent teaching trip to Cuba. 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

How Did That Happen in Cuba?

Mark 4:26-29 (ESV)

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

In chapter 2 of my book on missions published in Mexico, while writing about the impressive growth of Christian faith in closed countries, I talked about Cuba without actually seeing what God was doing there.  I finally had that opportunity during my recent teaching trip to Cuba for a week, taking back with me the reminder that “seeing is believing.”

In 2005, I wrote: “For over 40 years, Cuba was the only country in the Western Hemisphere that had embraced atheism publicly. Many believers were imprisoned because of their faith. But Castro could not kill the church of God.  In early 1994, after 35 years of persecution, the Protestants in Cuba began to experience a renaissance.  In 1998, six percent of Cubans (700,000) continued to attend church, of which 57 percent were Protestant.  For instance, the Methodist congregants grew from 6,000 members in 1959 to 50,000 by 1994. Despite almost no help from outside for 30+ years, it is believed that there are 4,000 churches in Cuba.”

And the first thing I experienced in Cuba, before my first class began, was worshiping in one of these churches on Monday morning (as if Sunday wasn’t enough). Now, this was no ordinary service: over 200 seminarians and local church leaders singing praise to the Lord at the top of their lungs, moving and dancing in the Spirit, and crying out to God in desperate pleas (for most Cubans are in need economically).   And what went on in the classroom was no different: 71 seminarians intently studying in a crammed space, praising and crying out to God just as sincerely.  Their days began at 5:30 AM to get ready for morning prayers at 6, followed by a time of Bible reading.  Only then the first of daily five classes would begin, totaling six hours of classroom instructions.

So, how can we account for this impressive growth without the help of Western missionaries?   According to Mark 4:14, the seed in today’s parable can also represent God’s Word; and once it is planted in the soil of human heart, its inherent power does the rest in expanding in God’s Kingdom on earth, through the sharing of God’s Word by ordinary people of faith empowered by the Spirit.  That’s what happened in Cuba and can also happen in our country.  Are you up for it?

Bible Reading for Today: John 17


Lunch Break Study

Read Phil. 1:15-16 (written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome): Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

Heb. 4:12: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Questions to Consider

  1. Briefly describe what was going with some of Paul’s colleagues in ministry while the apostle was imprisoned in Rome.
  2. Did Paul think that God’s Word proclaimed by those with wrong motives could not bear any fruit? If the answer is no, then what does this say about God’s Word?
  3. What does God’s Word intend to accomplish—that is, what does it do for us?

Notes

  1. Apparently, some of Paul’s ministry colleagues, given to envy and rivalry, were glad that the apostle was imprisoned so that they could shine before men through the preaching of God’s Word. In other words, their ministry was not discharged out of good will but in pretense.
  2. Nevertheless, the apostle Paul felt that as long as these men preached Jesus correctly, God would honor His Word despite the impurity of their motives. This underscores the inherent power of God’s Word that supersedes the flaws of imperfect vessels.   Nevertheless, James 3:1 assures that God will judge these types of teachers.
  3. Everything: God’s Word intends to challenge our values and worldview, to heal us physically, and to disclose what is really in our hearts to transform us (Rom. 12:1).

Evening Reflection

We began the day reflecting on what God had been doing in Cuba without much help from Western missionaries.  We noted how this shows the inherent power of God’s Word to build His kingdom on earth with our minimal participation. Yet I hope that this doesn’t discourage you from being proactive in serving the Lord.  So, what can you learn from passionate Cuban believers?  Would you spend a moment to allow the Spirit to speak to you about it?

August 7, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from August 7-11 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang who writes about his recent teaching trip to Cuba. 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Is Today Monday or Sunday?

Hebrews 10:25 (NIV 1984)

“Let us not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Is attending Sunday worship service important to you?  As a believer and a father trying to model a life of faith to his children, worshiping God corporately on Sundays has been very important.  And today’s passage suggests that once you miss a Sunday, it may become a habit for some.

I don’t like to travel on Sundays, but sometimes I have no other option, as was the case with my recent trip to Cuba where I taught at a seminary near Havana.  My daughter faced the same predicament as her plane to Boston was scheduled to leave an hour before mine.  We did try to find a Saturday service but couldn’t; I even searched for Korean churches nearby since they are known to hold early prayer meetings but to no avail.

My daughter, however, felt that she could make it to AMI’s Symphony Church if her plane arrived on time.  So, I was elated to read her text, while waiting for my connection flight to Cuba, that read: “Got to Symphony service in time for the sermon.”  But I wasn’t so fortunate: my plan to visit the airport chapel was quickly quashed upon realizing that it required leaving the airport security zone; there just wasn’t enough time.  Then, something happened the next day in Cuba that made up for what didn’t happen on Sunday.

I went to Havana, with my teaching assistant Jon (staff at Radiance Christian Church), to teach from Monday through Friday.  But the first Monday class didn’t start until after 3 PM because the week begins with a prayer service from 10 AM to 1 PM.  There were over 200 people, comprised of students and local church leaders, in attendance.  It was a full service with an hour-long worship, intermittent prayers, and a sermon, which I preached.  During the worship, I asked Jon (who also missed Sunday), “Is today Sunday or Monday?”  He assured me that it was Monday!  We then broke out in joyous laughers with me saying, “Thank the Lord; we didn’t miss Sunday service after all.”

Sometimes we have no choice but to miss a Sunday, but don’t make a habit of it.  If you missed it last week, write this down in your phone: Meet God at His house this Sunday.

Prayer: Father, thank You for giving us a living institution, Your church, where we can worship You corporately.  Forgive me whenever I become lackadaisical about Sunday worship and give into temptation.  Help me to truly worship You.  Amen.    

Bible Reading for Today: John 16


Lunch Break Study

Read John 4:24: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”;

Mt. 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

1 Cor. 12:12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”

Questions to Consider

  1. How should we worship God and what does that imply?
  2. We can certainly worship God alone but how is that different from worshiping the Lord corporately? Think about the workings of the Body of Christ.
  3. What is the great obstacle in your life that diminishes your weekly worship experience, including being inconsistent with attending Sunday services?

Notes

  1. We are to worship God in spirit and truth. Worshiping God in truth would certainly include worshiping Him with right doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16, 2 Jn. 1:9).  Worshiping God in spirit would include worshiping with the right heart, with prayer and praise to Him.
  2. The corporate worship of God, that is, together physically with members of the body of Christ, can accentuate the presence of Christ among them when it is done in spirit and truth. This is not to underplay the importance of individual worshiping of God at home or other places.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Let’s conclude this day with a beautiful psalm that beautifully depicts the worshiping of God.

Slowly read Psalm 95:1-7 as you worship the Lord.

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! 7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”

August 6, Sunday

The AMI QT Devotionals for July 31-August 6 are provided by Christine Li.  Christine, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, currently lives and works in New York City.  She serves at Remnant Church in Manhattan.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Daily Bread

Exodus 16:15b-20

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’” 17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed. 19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” 20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.”

Every so often, my roommate and I will find ourselves with a plethora of snacks left in our apartment – either gifts from other people or food that we purchased for the occasion. Over time, the snacks still get stale no matter how many preservative chemicals have been added to keep them fresh.  We have to throw them out before anybody else comes over and wants to eat them. While they might be barely edible and non-toxic, they’re no longer fresh and enjoyable.

I have often found myself doing something similar with God’s blessings. Instead of approaching God’s word to learn something new each day, I’ll just reflect on something I already know from the week or month prior. Instead of asking God to grow my faith, I’ll allow a significant experience from the past to become the focal point of my relationship with Him. By overemphasizing and over-relying on what God has done in the past, I fail to be open to new things from Him, and I fail to be expectant that He can do even greater things than in the past.

God’s message to the Israelites of how they must seek Him constantly was physically backed up by this demonstration through manna, the bread from heaven that would become inedible in a short span of time: There is enough for today.  There will be even more tomorrow. But, we cannot live on what we gathered yesterday – yesterday’s portion is rarely suitable for today. The same concepts apply to our spiritual life. Each day we are to seek Him freshly; each day we are to expect that He, in love, will provide for us. We cannot keep going off what we have tasted from the past – if we want to grow and thrive, we will need to receive newly from Him.

After a while, even the best of our old experience with God will grow cold and stale. Let’s not live on yesterday’s grace when God has an abundance in store for us. Today, as we come before Him in the sanctuary, let’s remember that our Father is infinitely rich and has all things at His disposal. When we approach Him, we can be sure that He will send new grace, new sustenance, and new mercies.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your endless provision in our lives. Lord, we confess that, out of fear, we keep returning to the things we’ve received and sometimes stop asking for more of You. Help us stop clinging to hindsight and look forward to what You are able to do in our lives. Grow anticipation, expectation, and firm trust in Your goodness and Your love!

Bible Reading for Today: John 15