March 11, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, first posted on March 26, 2016, is provided by Pastor Jason Sato who, along with his wife Jessica and three young children, serves in Japan as an AMI missionary. Jason, a graduate of UC San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), moved to Tokyo in 2022 where he plans to, the Lord willing, plant a church. 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“The Limitless Power of God”

Acts 12:5, 12-17 (ESV)

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

[12] When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. [13] And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. [14] Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. [15] They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” [16] But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. [17] But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place.

During one trip to China, I was reading John 3 (being born again) with a young man who was a member of the Communist Party.  I asked him what he thought about the passage, and he said he needed God to make him into a new person.  Tentatively, I asked him if he wanted to be born again right then, and he said “yes.”  So shocked by his response, I almost asked him if he was sure; instead, I led him in the sinner’s prayer.

Over the years, I’ve led short-term mission teams to various places.  Every trip, we pray earnestly for the power of God and the salvation of the lost.  More often than not, we are surprised when God actually answers.

In our passage, the Jerusalem church is earnestly praying for the Apostle Peter.  Though Peter is closely guarded by Roman soldiers, an angel miraculously leads him out of the prison.  When Peter shows up at the prayer meeting that has been convened specifically for him, no one believes it could actually be him.

Sometimes we can assume prayer is about the experience rather than the result.  Of course, spending time in communion with our Heavenly Father is important and worthwhile in and of itself, but at the same time there is real power in prayer!

More than anything else, Peter’s miraculous escape from prison demonstrates the limitless power of God.  The believers in Acts will continue to face opposition and persecution; sometimes they will be rescued, but other times they will face prison or execution (as Peter eventually would).  However, the power of God is always greater than the power of the world and God’s plan to bring salvation to the nations cannot be stopped.

May God grant to us boldness in our prayers and our witness, knowing that He is faithful and strong.

Prayer: Father, so often I am discouraged by circumstances and I doubt even as I pray.  Help me to trust in Your Holy Spirit and not myself, that I might be bold in calling people to Your Son. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 13, Esther 1

March 10, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional Quiet Time, provided by Christine Li, was first posted on April 22, 2016. Christine, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, serves as a deaconess at Remnant Church in Manhattan, New York.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The Simplest Truth”

Acts 19:4-6

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

My dad has always stuck out to me as being exceptionally steadfast and solid in his faith, so I asked him how he came to know Christ in grad school. He said that he had grown up going to church only to please his mother, and he had no intention of keeping that up in America. Despite that resolution, he found himself going back to church each Sunday and even attending Bible studies. One day, realizing that he was spending a lot of time in these Christian activities, he decided that he should just continue to follow Jesus Christ. I was dumbfounded. That was it? Given my experience of his faithfulness and love for God, I was surprised that there was no dramatic moment or revelation that set it all in motion.

Similarly, I find this account to be so incredible. All throughout Acts, we have seen miraculous signs and wonders and impassioned speeches. Paul, too, being a learned man, has debated with thinkers and non-believers in public forums. But here, there was no extra debate, no extra proving from the Scriptures, no miraculous deeds to wow them with. All Paul had to do was tell them that John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, and suddenly the church gained twelve new believers. 

I have spent a lot of time over the years trying to learn fresh ways to present the gospel to unbelieving friends or studying counter-arguments to win them over with. Maybe you have as well, and it is great that we have made the effort to prepare in these ways. But let’s remember that is it the simple truth of God’s love that wins people over. Instead of relying on clever presentation or preparation, let’s put more trust in God’s Spirit to work in our words, no matter how simple the message might sound. 

Today, let’s spend some time reflecting on the simple, foundational truths from the Bible. We might find that even a truth as simple as “God loves you” can stir up a fire in our hearts all over again!

Prayer: Father, thank You for making Your love so easy to convey and so easy to accept. I admit that pride motivates me to find a way to impressively convey Your message. Help me to trust in Your Spirit instead of my own means so that I can attribute all of the glory and credit to You when someone believes in You! Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 12

Lunch Break Study

Read Mark 9:32-37: But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. 33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” 36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Questions to Consider

1. Note the disciples’ reactions to Jesus in both verse 32 and verse 34. What does this say about their relationship with Jesus? Does it reflect our relationship with Jesus?

2. Why does Jesus respond to them in this way in verse 35? Is His response significant? 

3. Why does Jesus encourage the disciples to welcome children in the middle of his teaching? What can we learn from welcoming children?


1. In v.32, Jesus is speaking plainly about His coming death and resurrection, but the disciples are too confused to ask Him to better understand it. In v.33, they are striving internally to know their evaluations, but they are ashamed to come before Him openly. In both instances, the disciples withdrew from Jesus. They were afraid to learn from Him and preferred to dispute amongst themselves (not dissimilar to ourselves)!

2. Despite the disciples’ reluctance to face Jesus with their questions, He proactively sits them down to teach them the very thing they were disputing about. He knows their doubts and their warring nature; yet He does not rebuke them but gently teaches them what they need to know.

3.  The disciples are concerned with whether or not they can understand Jesus’ messages. A child cannot fully understand a message but can understand being loved and cared for. What qualifies someone to be welcomed into the fold of God is not scholarship but the ability to perceive, accept, and enjoy His love.

Evening Reflection

Jesus loves you, God is good. Sometimes when we hear these simple messages too frequently, they lose impact. Let’s refresh our hearts by dwelling in just one simple concept you know from the Bible and thinking about whether our lives are really built on these foundations. Let’s pray that as we meditate on these truths, God will remind us how impactful these simple sentences actually are. 

March 9, Thursday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is a reprint of Kate Moon’s blog originally posted on March 10, 2016.  Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia. 

Devotional Thought for this Morning

What to Do When Someone Is Making You Angry

Acts 7:51-54

“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears!  You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!  52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?  They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One.  And now you have betrayed and murdered him –  53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”  54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.

Have you ever found yourself angered by someone’s words or actions only to realize later that they were right and you were wrong?  If so, consider yourself fortunate as it is better than being insensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit to the end.

Soon after Stephen comes to the climax of his speech with these words, he himself joins the too-long line of prophets who, throughout Israel’s history, have been persecuted by their own countrymen.  Before the Sanhedrin, Stephen speaks of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers out of jealousy (v. 9), and Moses who was rejected by the Israelites, though he had performed miracles to prove he had been sent by God to deliver and govern them (vv. 35-36).  Through Holy Spirit-inspired wisdom, by reviewing these stories from their collective past, Stephen masterfully shows what is in the hearts of man and whose side, in the end, history ends up being on.  As they listened to Stephen speak, were the chief priests able to see the jealousy in their own hearts that had led them to crucify Jesus on the cross?  Could they see that in rejecting Jesus, who had been sent by God to be their Lord and Savior, they were rejecting the “prophet like [Moses]” (v. 37) whose office had been authenticated by miracles just as Moses’ was?

From their reaction, it is clear that they understood what Stephen was saying about them, but they were not able to receive it.  When earlier Peter preaches the same message, people are struck to the heart, and 3,000 people repent and turn to God (Acts 2:36-41).  When Stephen preaches, his audience continues to resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit and ends up persecuting, even unto death, yet another prophet sent to them by God.

Is there someone or a situation that is making you angry today?  Examine your heart carefully to see whether your anger is justified or whether the Holy Spirit is trying to speak to you about this situation.  If He is, listen.  If needed, repent.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, would You search my heart to see if there is any offensive way within me?  Especially if there is any anger and I am in the wrong, convict me.  I’ve seen in Your word today how scary a thing it is to have a hardened heart.  I don’t want to resist You; please help me not to resist.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 11

Lunch Break Study 

Read Acts 7:54-58 & 1 Timothy 1:13-17: When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56  ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’  57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Questions to Consider

1. How are the Sanhedrin described here?

2. How is Stephen described in contrast?

3.   Paul, who witnessed this scene as Saul in Acts 7:58, later writes 1 Timothy 1:13-17.  In light of his transformation, what hope is there for our anger-filled society today?  What should we keep doing, no matter what the circumstances?


1.    Gnashing teeth, yelling, throwing things – it is a picture of people turned almost inhuman as they are overcome by a violent anger – a picture, unfortunately, that we have seen one time too many, whether in tragic news reports or for some, in childhood memories growing up.

2. In this moment when people are furious with him, Stephen is looking up to heaven, seeing God, and pointing others to Him, still wanting them to see Him, too.

3. If he was the one who described the scene to Luke, his traveling companion and author of Acts, it means that even when Paul was not a sympathetic observer, Stephen’s witness had been burned in his memory, made an impact.  We need to keep pointing people to Jesus.

Evening Reflection

As God’s kingdom advances, there is resistance, both from without and within.  Was I able to stand firm in my witness in an unsympathetic world today?  Was I able to stay soft in my heart and yield to the Holy Spirit today?

March 8, Wednesday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 6, 2016.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What Should We Do When We Don’t Like the Sermon”

Acts 1:6

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Luke 24:19-21, 25

They replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. . . . 25 [Jesus] said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

A pastor’s worst nightmare is being told how ineffective his sermon is, and that’s what recently happened to a pastor to whom this college sophomore said, “I’ve gotten nothing out of your sermons.”  To him, the problem lies squarely with the pastor’s alleged inability to preach or teach well; but that may not necessarily be the case.  

Now, Jesus was called, “Rabbi” (teacher), for a reason: so exceptional was his teaching that “the people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching—and with authority!’” (Mk. 1:27).  What makes a good teacher shouldn’t be so much that he is charismatic or entertaining, but that the students actually learn.  To that end, Jesus was off the chart but even his teaching couldn’t change the long held Messianic expectation by the Jews that was simply wrong.   Seeing the resurrected Christ, the Israelites wondered whether Jesus would drive out the hated Romans from the holy land and then “restore the kingdom to Israel.”  They acted as though they never heard Jesus say, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation . . . because the kingdom of God is within you’” (Lk. 17:21).  

I’m not sure how my pastor friend responded to his critic, but Jesus certainly didn’t apologize; instead he said, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”  This is to say, when you aren’t getting much from a sermon, you shouldn’t automatically assume that the problem lies with the speaker; it could be your critical attitude or arbitrary criteria, or both. 

Once, a student asked a renowned seminary professor how he could get blessed by a sermon given by someone who knows far less than him.  His answer: “As long as he reads even one verse from the Scripture, that’s enough to be blessed.”   I would have told the sophomore, “While I work on my sermon, you should work on having a childlike heart, for Jesus said, “Father. . . you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children” (Matt. 11:25).  The next time you go to church, don’t leave home without a childlike heart—it will improve your hearing. 

Prayer: Mighty God, I lift up my voice and hands unto You in worship and adoration.  I love You with all my heart!  May your kingdom, which resides in my heart, grow and prosper in 2016 and let it be shown through my being more like childlike whenever I encounter your precious word.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Nehemiah 10

Lunch Break Study

Read Mark 4:14-8: “The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Question to Consider

1. What is the gist of this parable?  When it comes to God’s word bearing fruits in our lives, what is the most significant factor?

2. What factors curtail or diminish our ability to listen, understand and then live by God’s word?

3. What do you think is meant by “good soil?”  Describe it.  Is that the kind of attitude you have? 


1. The “word” is fine; the problem is often the attitude we bring when we counter God’s word, whether it be reading the Bible or hearing someone teach or preach.  Our attitude makes a world of difference between being blessed or critical; being receptive or closed.

2. First, not having any root indicates someone who is in a perpetual state of having a shallow understanding of the Bible; when some inconvenient thing occurs, he bails out. Second, seed sown among thorns suggests an inability or unwillingness to adequately handle the worries of life and excessive desires for the things of the world.  So, when the pastor preaches against loving the world, it will be easy for someone with this problem to blame him for yelling or being boring.  

3. As it was said in the morning devotion, a childlike heart: someone who is willing to submit to the truth no matter who says it; someone who won’t reject the entire sermon on account of a few disagreements or dislikes.  

Evening Reflection

This is a test: Do you still remember any part of the sermon you heard this past Sunday (I am assuming that you went)?  What is it?  Hebrews 2:1 says, “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”  When all the hours spent on listening to sermons are added at the end of our life, it may be a matter of years!  That’s some investment.  Shouldn’t you be a wise investor?  So improve your hearing.  Ask God for strength and discipline.

March 7, Tuesday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on May 10, 2016, is provided by Pastor David Kwon of Journey Community Church (Raleigh).  David, a graduate of Drexel University and Columbia International University (M.Div.) is married to Helen (“Pie”) and they have three beautiful daughters (Cara, Phoebe, and Ruth). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Defending Our Faith”

Acts 24:10-16

And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied: “Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. 11 You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, 12 and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. 13 Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. 14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. 16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

One of the challenges of being a Christian today is learning how to defend your faith (often referred to as apologetics).  Being part of a pluralistic society, we often hear people in our schools and work places discredit the truths of Christianity.  The question I want to challenge us with today is: “Would you know how to defend your faith if someone tried to discredit or disprove Christianity?”

In his book On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision, William Lane Craig pointedly says: “If Christians could be trained to provide solid evidence for what they believe and good answers to unbelievers’ questions and objections, then the perception of Christians would slowly change. Christians would be seen as thoughtful people to be taken seriously rather than as emotional fanatics or buffoons. The gospel would be a real alternative for people to embrace.” 
As Paul faces Felix, he is allowed to defend the gospel that put him in prison.  He defends the accusations against him that he is a troublemaker and a leader of the Way – a Nazarene sect.  He actually ends up agreeing with the substance of the accusations and briefly shares that he does worship the one true God.  Paul defends his faith with much wisdom and boldness.

In order to grow in the area of apologetics, I want to suggest a few ideas: (1) Study the Word diligently: know what the Word says about major themes and doctrines of faith; (2) Read books on apologetics: There are many books written that will explain how to defend your faith.  Authors such as C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, and Tim Keller have all written excellent books on apologetics.

Prayer: Lord, help us to be people who know how to defend our faith in this unbelieving and hostile world.  We need Your guidance and wisdom to speak the truth when opportunities arise.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 9

Lunch Break Study

Read Colossians 4:5-6: Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Questions to Consider

  1. What do you think it means to walk in wisdom towards outsiders?
  2. How can our speech be gracious and seasoned with salt?
  3. How do these verses apply to you personally?


  1. The basic gospel message is easy to learn, but it takes wisdom to present it in a way that will not unnecessarily create obstacles to its truth in the hearts and minds of unbelievers.  To warn people of the judgment, due to their sin, with honesty, love, and humility can be difficult. We can fall into the trap either of being so concerned about sounding judgmental that we never talk about sin, or of being so self-righteous that we forget the grace shown to us—and treat people as if they are so unclean that Jesus could never forgive nor welcome them into His kingdom.
  2. The Greek words that are behind “speech,” “gracious,” and “salt” are used together in first-century literature to refer to speech that is gracious and attractive — winsome, even witty words that are also spoken in a humble manner. In other words, the apostle wants the presentation of the gospel to the outside world done in a manner that captures the gospel’s excitement, and that is able to answer the unbeliever’s legitimate questions.
  3. Reflect and apply.

Evening Reflection

Spend time in personal prayer.   Ask the Lord to speak to you on the things you have read and meditated on today. 

March 6, Monday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 11, 2016.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“The City Life”

Acts 1:12

Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.

Genesis 4:16-8

Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. 17 Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.

No one extolled the virtue of city life better than erstwhile Harvard professor Harvey Cox, who argued in his seminal work Secular City (1965) that modern city life is preferable over rural (traditional) life.  Cox liked that in the city, “relationships are founded on free selection and common interest,” giving people a “wider range of alternatives,” unlike in rural life, where relationships are preset and any newcomer was held in suspicion unless one knew “where they came from and whether their family was any good.”  Undoubtedly, he would prefer Sex and the City over The Waltons, a popular TV show in the 1970s featuring a large rural family.

Of course, the 21st century city doesn’t look anything like its 1st century counterpart: cars and trucks have long replaced mules and carts; people who talk to themselves used to be call crazy, but now it just means that a Bluetooth mic is clipped to their ear.   But some aspects of city life have not changed: young people still flock to cities, seeking fame, fortune and love.  Contrary to Cox’s assertion, cities continued to be a place of broken dreams and shattered relationships.   No sooner do people come to cities than they find out that the competition is fierce and no one can be trusted.  

In a symbolic sense, it makes sense why more city dwellers are victims of crime than anyone else: Cain, who “belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother” (1 Jn. 3:11), built the first city. And a city was where Jesus, just before his ascension, commanded his disciples to go.  In Jerusalem, the disciples were to receive power through the Holy Spirit, after which they were to preach the gospel (Lk. 24:47) before venturing out to other nations.  

A city was where the apostles first preached the gospel, and even today cities are often the seminal grounds for mission work around the world.  In the 2000s, I served in Chihuahua, Mexico, a city of a 1 million people.  I walked to stores, jogged daily (crossing 42 streets) and train urban pastors.  And it was fun and rewarding ten years of our lives.  How about you?  Is God calling you to a city?  There are still a lot of needs out there.   

Prayer: God, on this day reserved for you, I thank You for the opportunity to serve you, which I often take for granted.  Whether I live in the suburb or city, there is no shortage of people who need You. Help me to share what I’ve received from You: hope, meaning and eternal life in Christ.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Nehemiah 8

Lunch Break Study

Read Hebrews 10:24-5: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Jn. 15:12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Prov. 18:24: One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Question to Consider

1. Imagine a lonely city dweller.  Based on these passages and our need to belong, how can we make her feel better?

2. Define a good friend.

3. What are some good ways to encourage a discouraged friend or acquaintance? 


1. A safe and secure place where she can interact with others; a meaningful friendship

2. A good friend is someone who sacrifices himself to seek your good; someone who will stay with you through good and bad times 

3. We should begin with reminding them of God’s love, care and concern for them; and then we should invite them to our meetings while reaffirming your love for them.

Evening Reflection

Do you live and work in the city?  Or do you live in a suburb but work in the city? Each day might be busier than the last for you. But we should do more than just spend the whole day in front of the computer and talk on the phone.  Reach out!  A simple yet sincere “How are you” can mean a world of different to your lonely coworker or fellow student.  Do something unique for someone tomorrow.  Pray about it.

March 5, Sunday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on March 27, 2016, is provided by Pastor Jason Sato who, along with his wife Jessica and three young children, serves in Japan as an AMI missionary.  Jason, a graduate of UC San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), moved to Tokyo in 2022 where he plans to, the Lord willing, plant a church. 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Who Gets the Glory in Your Life?”

Acts 12:20-24 (ESV)

Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. [21] On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. [22] And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” [23] Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. [24] But the word of God increased and multiplied.

In our passage this morning, Herod, a persecutor of the church, is judged by God.  The people flatter him in a blasphemous way, he receives the glory due to God, and he is subsequently struck down.

Herod’s desire for and enjoyment of glory is not unique.  The desire for glory has been the source of conflict with God from the very beginning.  Satan was not satisfied by simply reflecting the glory of God; he wanted to take God’s place.  Adam and Eve were tempted by the prospect of becoming like God.

Glory is something like fame.  Of course, we understand that God deserves His glory (or fame), but we would not mind if we got some for ourselves too.  Perhaps we don’t want to be famous in a TMZ celebrity kind of way, but we would like others to speak well of us and for the right people to know how wonderful or talented we are.  

Even in ministry, we are not free from this temptation.  I am a pastor, and I am committed to spreading the fame of God to the whole world, yet I also want people to recognize my gifts and my competence.  

Thankfully, there will be a day when you and I will be free from this desire for self-glory, and we will be blessed to wholeheartedly give God everything He deserves.  All of human history is marching forward to the day when Jesus will get all the glory.  

May our Risen King receive the reward of His death and resurrection! “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.” (Philippians 2:8-11)

Prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You are the One True God and You deserve all the glory!  I hate my sin and long to be free of all my self-love so that I may give You my whole heart, soul, and mind.  Maranatha—come Lord Jesus—and take Your rightful place as King! Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 7

March 4, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is a reprint of Kate Moon’s blog originally posted on March 12, 2016.  Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia. 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Ego Larger Than Life”

Acts 8:9-13; 18-24

Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention . . . . 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”  20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”  24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”

What can we tell about someone who chooses sorcery as his occupation in life?  At the very least, he isn’t normal.  In Acts chapter 8, we see an interesting portrait of this funny, unusual man.  He enjoyed the attention of people, boasted that he was someone great, but when someone greater came along, he fell into line and started following this person everywhere.  His character seems almost recognizable, like the man in the movies who boasts in a bar of his arm-wrestling ability only to make a quick about-face when the real champion walks in.  The comedy is in how shamelessly he humbles himself in the blink of an eye – a seeming defeat – but in that moment, if he does it charmingly enough, he wins over the heart of the audience.

Ego larger than life on the one hand, able to follow someone around like a devoted fan on the other, Simon could have been one such person.  Despite all the outrageous things he says and does, we can still somehow see the humanity of the new believer and former sorcerer.  Because of his newfound faith, he’d had to abandon the career which had been his whole identity and source of affirmation.  As he tries to figure out a new life for himself, all he knows is that this ministry of the Holy Spirit attracts him; it seems similar to but at the same time so much better than what he’d been doing in the past.  He had a heart that longed for more and the faith to believe in God for the extraordinary, but in seeking to gain some kind of access to all this himself, he goes about things in a clumsy way, offering money, and his request is denied.

Peter says that his heart wasn’t right before God, that it was full of bitterness and captive to sin. Was it out of bitterness that he had worked all his life in the past?  A desire to make people recognize him born out of past experiences of their rejection or disrespect?  If Simon wanted to engage in God’s work, he needed to have his heart renewed; he couldn’t bring the same heart he’d done sorcery and magic with before into the Holy Spirit ministry now.  If he truly wanted to engage in this ministry, he needed to be operating from a deep love for people and a desire to see Jesus glorified, not himself.

It is admirable to seek the power of the Holy Spirit in ministry; it means we’re not content with life as usual when we know we serve an extraordinary God.  As we seek God’s power, however, let us also pursue purity of heart.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, what is in my heart today?  Do I desire people’s attention or affirmation?  Am I motivated at all by any bitterness that I am nursing in my heart?  Help me to lay all less than noble motives down.  This day, as I seek Your power to serve Your people, would You purify my heart?  For Your glory, in Your name I pray.

Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 5-6

March 3, Friday 

REPOST  Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles, was first posted on March 3, 2016.  Charles is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Be Careful with Traditions”

Acts 10:9-33 

10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.  

Having served a number of churches, I’ve come to see that every church has its traditions. Everything from cultural to denominational, I have seen people have strong feelings for certain forms of spirituality or church practices that they are even willing to fight and divide over them.  

Traditions are not bad; they can be very good and be a way to remember what God has done in the past—a way to relive those important moments. But we can also become enslaved to them. Instead of serving as a bridge to lead to truth and life, it can also be used to build a box to keep God inside and others out. 

In our passage, Peter is with Simon the tanner in the city of Joppa. But while Peter was praying on the rooftop, where meals were often served, he enters into a trance and sees a vision of a sheet descending from the heavens with all kinds of animals on it and an accompanying voice with the words “kill and eat.” Peter refused to violate the dietary laws as prescribed in Deuteronomy 14, where ceremonially unclean animals—like pigs and birds—were forbidden for consumption. But the clear message for Peter, and for all Jews thereafter, was to partake of it, because “what God has made clean, do not call common.”

Consider why it was so difficult for Peter to comprehend God’s message. It comes down to building a life on traditions. The Jews were defined by the traditions of their dietary restrictions, and of course, it served its purpose for its time. But when God was ready to do a new thing, Peter found himself initially unwilling to believe—the old wineskin was keeping him from the new wine.  

God speaks through the ordinary things of life as well as through the great visions of the heavens. We are called today to pay attention to see how God is doing a new thing in our lives. Am I listening? Am I paying attention? Consider what traditions, habits or past teachings that might be keeping you from hearing afresh the voice of God in your life today. 

Prayer: God, help me to see You today. Help me not to take for granted how You speak through ordinary things in life. Allow my ears to listen attentively to Your voice. Don’t allow distractions or traditions to keep me from loving You today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:Nehemiah 4

Lunch Break Study

Read Galatians 5:16-26: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Questions to Consider 

1. What are the works of the flesh? According to Paul, what will keep us from gratifying the desires of the flesh?   

2. What is the fruit of the Spirit? 

3. What particular fruit of the Spirit do you need to work on? 


1. “The works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (verses 19-21). When we allow the Spirit to lead us, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

2. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (verses 22-23). 

3. Personal Response.

Evening Reflection

“Fruit is always the miraculous, the created; it is never the result of willing, but always a growth. The fruit of the Spirit is a gift of God, and only He can produce it. They who bear it know as little about it as the tree knows of its fruit. They know only the power of Him on whom their life depends” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

March 2, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional Thought, first posted on April 12, 2016, is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee.  He is 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 Thoughts for This Morning

“Don’t Be a Know-It-All”

Acts 17:11-12

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

My wife teaches advanced nursing at UCSF, so most of her students have been practicing as registered nurses for several years. Generally, she likes her job and her students, but every so often, she will tell me about a few who try her nerves.  The commonality among these students is that when the class gets to topics that they are familiar with –because they have years of experience in these areas—they become know-it-alls and quite opinionated about what is being taught.  I have found this experience common in a lot of settings.  Some classes in seminary were difficult to get through, simply because everyone had an opinion or criticism about the book we were reading.  The point I am trying to make is, that many want to be teachers (or critics), but few are willing to be students. 

If you’ve been in the church for a while, you’ve probably heard preachers praise the practices of the Berean Jews.  These Bereans, upon hearing Paul’s message, examined the Old Testament to confirm the truth of what was being taught.  So the common exhortation is that everyone should study the Word and make sure the preacher is teaching soundly.  While I obviously don’t want to discourage this practice, I do want to point out one important detail:  In v. 11, we read that the Bereans received the Word with great eagerness.  Because the Bereans loved Paul’s message, they eagerly searched the Scriptures, hoping that he and the gospel message were correct and trustworthy.  In other words, the reason they searched the Scriptures so intently was that they were genuinely interested in learning more than teaching.  

As we get older and more seasoned, we become less teachable, don’t we?  And as we become less teachable, things become more mundane and dull, don’t they?  One of the signs that you are still teachable is eagerness and excitement.  Are you eager to read the Bible or go to church?  In your heart of hearts, do you feel like you’ve read that or heard that before—“same old, same old”?  This morning, let’s remind ourselves that the infinite God has more than enough tricks for our finite selves to keep us from getting bored; let’s be eager for God’s presence and being!    

Prayer: Lord, give me excitement in getting to know You.  Let me never feel like I’ve heard it all or read it all or experienced it all.  Give me a teachable spirit and an open heart.  Let me fall in love with You anew. Amen.

Bible Reading for TodayNehemiah 3

Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 2: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break[b] them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear,  and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Questions to Consider

Generally ascribed to David, Psalm 2 is a royal Psalm that speaks about the Lord’s sovereign rule and His volition to establish David’s monarchy.  This Psalm will find its fullest ministry in the reign of Christ. 

1.  How do the “nations” respond to the Lord’s rule in vv. 1-3?  How are you sometimes like them?

2.  What is the Lord’s response in vv. 4-6?  And whose rule is established in vv. 7-9?

3.  How does the psalmist’s exhortation in vv.10-12 apply to you?  


1.  The nations rebel against the Lord and His anointed One.  Sometimes, it is helpful to take the Psalms personally: Ask yourself, “Do you ever rebel, or desire to rebel, against the Lord’s rule?”

2.  Ultimately, the nations’ rebellion has insignificant impact on the Lord; He laughs at these attempts (v. 3).  The Psalm may have originally been about David’s reign; however, it is ultimately fulfilled in Christ.  Jesus’ reign is firmly and unshakably established.  

3.  Question:  Are you fully satisfied under the Lord’s rule?  Do you embrace His lordship over your life and strive to serve Him faithfully? Or, do you desire to rebel?  

Evening Reflection

Today, we discussed two themes: This morning, it was about having a teachable heart and being eager to know and love God more; while this afternoon, it was about living joyfully under the Lord’s sovereign rule.  These themes are somewhat related, as they both require faith— faith to believe that God’s rule is good and trustworthy, and faith to believe that God knows more than you and you have much to learn about Him.  As you reflect on these ideas, pray for whatever may be lacking in your faith.