November 25, Thursday 

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor David Kwon of Journey Community Church in Raleigh, was originally posted on November 28, 2013.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Happy Thanksgiving . . . Because of Him”

Psalm 117:1-2

Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! [2] For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!

This is the shortest Psalm in the Psalter, but as Derek Kidner rightly notes, its faith is “great” and “its reach is enormous.”  He added, “The shortest Psalm proves, in fact, to be one of the most potent and most seminal.”  How so?

The first striking feature of this Psalm is its call for all nations and all people to praise God. It is, therefore, a missionary psalm, calling on all peoples everywhere to extol God.   The second important feature is the reason why all nations should praise God: His steadfast love and faithfulness, which endures forever.  

On this day of Thanksgiving, we should be reminded of the greatness of His love for the nations as well as for us.   God expressed the fullest measure of His love for us in Christ; in Him, we have abundant life (Jn. 10:10) in this age and eternal life in the age to come.  The innumerable promises of the Lord, such as tarrying with us in our trials or answering our prayers, are as fresh and intact now as on the day they were made; and they will remain so.  

Take some time this morning praising and thanking the Lord for His love and faithfulness.  Meditate on the Cross and how it shows His great love for you.  May worship and praise arise as you think about Christ.

Prayer: Dear God, I thank You for everything!  Forgive me for complaining, pouting and comparing myself to others to complain and pout even more.  You are so good to me, Lord; and that’s all the more reason why I shall worship and praise You forever.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: John 12


Lunch Break

Read Ephesians 2:1-7: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—[3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. [4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—[6] and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, [7] so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Questions to Consider

1. According to verses 1-3, what is the true condition of humans?

2. In response, what has Christ done for humans in their miserable state?

3. What moves our Lord to do this?

Notes

1. Ephesians 2 is one of the deepest and richest passages in all of Scripture.  Paul describes man’s condition apart from the grace and mercy of Jesus in verse 1-3: man is not only spiritually dead but is an object of the wrath of God, who is holy and just.   

2. Thankfully, Jesus has not left men in their miserable state, but has chosen to rescue those chosen from the foundation of the world (1:3–6).  

3. It certainly is not any good we have done; being separated from God because of sins, we were undeserving of His love.  Whatever righteousness we thought we possessed was nothing but dirty rags (Isa. 64:6). What moves Him, Paul tells us, is His own mercy, love, grace, and kindness (Eph. 2:4–7).  It bears repeating that God has shown His grace and mercy when we did not deserve it.  It is only fitting that on this Thanksgiving Day, we spend some time thanking Jesus for His salvation and His great love for us.


Evening Reflection

One of our greatest needs as human beings is to be loved.  We have the need to know that we are important to somebody and that someone truly cares and accepts us unconditionally.  If this need is not met, we are liable to develop unacceptable behavior patterns to compensate for this need.

Remember, there is nothing we can do to make Jesus love us more, and nothing we will ever do will cause Him to love us any less. He loves us perfectly and completely regardless of how we perform; His love is unconditional.  Even if we don’t love ourselves, He still loves us. 

Having known and experienced His great love and mercy, we should show that same kindness to others in our lives.  Take some time to pray so that God’s love and mercy would be manifested abundantly in your life.  

November 24, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional is a reprint of Kate Moon’s blog originally posted on August 26, 2015.  Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Are You Doing It for Yourself?”

2 Kings 12:4-6

Joash said to the priests, “Collect all the money that is brought as sacred offerings to the temple of the LORD . . . Let every priest receive the money from one of the treasurers, and let it be used to repair whatever damage is found in the temple.”  But by the twenty-third year of King Joash the priests still had not repaired the temple.

Why had the priests failed to repair the temple?  Was it because of corruption or faulty spirituality?  Jehoiada, the leader of the priests at that time, instructed the king to do what was right in the eyes of the LORD (v. 2).  Was it because of a lack of organizational ability?  This was the same priest who had mobilized the nation’s leaders to execute the successful coup that put Joash on the throne.  In verse 8 is a suggestion of where the problem lay: “The priests agreed . . . that they would not repair the temple themselves.”  Both the priests and king had perhaps been thinking that only the priests were qualified to do this job when in actuality, it could only get done when they began involving others.

Sometimes we can keep looking to the same people to do everything because they seem like the best candidates.  When I was a high school English teacher, I worked with two student leaders on the school newspaper.  They were great, but because they were so great, they were also on the “most wanted” list for multiple other clubs on campus.  While this would look great on their college applications, it wasn’t the healthiest way for the school community to run.  They fulfilled their responsibilities for the paper, but just barely. And I can’t help but think how it would have been better if other students were involved who may not have been as obvious choices but who would have been devoted and able to contribute more than “just barely”—with the end result being a better paper.

Is there anything you’ve been trying to do yourself but find that it isn’t getting done?  Perhaps you need to admit your limitations, let go, and invite others to get involved.  Do you see something not getting done that is frustrating you?  Perhaps you need to offer to help out because those who are trying to do it themselves can’t do it alone.

Prayer: Lord, there are things, not only in my personal life but for Your greater kingdom purposes, that need to get done.  Help me to see my role, what I need to do (or let others do).  Thank you for the body of Christ, for we are in this together and none of us bears the responsibility alone.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 11


Lunch Break Study 

Read Acts 6:3, 7: 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them . . . 7 So the word of God spread.  The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Questions to Consider

1. How is the situation in this passage (early church) similar to that of King Joash’s time we read about this morning (v. 3)?

2. How are the people who were to receive this responsibility described (v. 3)?

3. What was the result of responsibility being turned over to others (v. 7)?  How do these verses challenge or encourage you in terms of your service to the Lord?

Notes

1. There was a group of people who needed to turn a responsibility over to others.

2. The community recognized them as being filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom.

3. The kingdom of God continued to advance.  When I am asked to take on a responsibility, it means that someone sees me, to some extent, as being wise and Spirit-filled.  And when I take on a responsibility, it contributes to the advancing of God’s kingdom—meaning, my service is significant.


Evening Reflection

As we reflect on the ways we are currently serving the Lord or considering getting involved, let’s take a moment to thank the Lord for the awesome privilege of being able to contribute to his kingdom work, of more people coming to know his love, more people being set free to truly live.

November 23, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on October 15, 2014.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Imposter Syndrome”

John 8:32 (ESV) 

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Once, I read about the so-called “impostor syndrome” that plagues those who believe that their present success is a result of an oversight–that they aren’t really that good.  Gripped by fear of being exposed, they constantly look over their shoulders.  While I was teaching in Acapulco in 2004, I met a Pentecostal pastor who fit that description.

Teaching on the Holy Spirit, I commented that speaking in tongues is not the only indicator of a person who is baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit; a transformed life that bears the fruit of the Spirit is surely a better gauge.   Several passages were examined, such as Acts 2:38-41 and 4:4, 31, which say nothing about speaking in tongues when people “receive[d] the gift of the Holy Spirit” and “were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”  In fact, at the moment we believe the gospel, “through the . . . renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5), “we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13).

During the break, a middle- aged pastor approached me with a look of disbelief and relief.   This man, believing that speaking in tongues was the only evidence for the baptism with the Holy Spirit, had prayed for others to receive that gift, but he himself didn’t have the gift.   Along with feeling embarrassed and even ashamed, he was even questioning his call to ministry; he felt like an imposter.  But the teaching he heard began the process of releasing him from the bondage rooted in a faulty concept.  

Regardless of different ways to help people to gain freedom from their problems (e.g., inner healing)— whether emotional, theological, or spiritual—truth should always be found at the center.   Jesus declared, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 17:32).  Some truths are self-evident, while others we must do some digging, but no one will be set free permanently apart from it.   So, study the Scripture; know and experience the truth in the Spirit (2 Cor. 2:17), which has the power to set us free.

Prayer: Father God, in the midst of so many lies and deceptions that surround us, it is a relief to know that eternal truths are readily available to us in your Scripture.  I must admit that I have not treated your Word with proper honor and respect.  Forgive me.  Help me to renew my desire for your truth.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 10


Lunch Break Study

Background: This was addressed to the Jewish exiles from Persia, who had returned to Jerusalem about 16 years earlier to rebuild the temple; however, they had stopped working on it after laying down the foundation (Ezra 3:10-4:24).

Read Haggai 1:2-4, 9-10: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce.”

Questions to Consider

1. What was the lie that the exiles believed which kept them from returning to work?

2. What did God do to help them see the truth?

3. What is the consequence of not heeding the truth? (It would be helpful to read Haggai 1.)              What is one truth of God that you need to heed right now?

Notes

1. The lie that they believed: “The reason we are not working on God’s house isn’t because we are unwilling, but it’s not the right time.  While waiting, we will just work on making our houses bigger and better” (suggested by “paneled house”).

2. God, through the Prophet Haggai, confronted their lie with a clear truth: “You aren’t thinking about My house; you only care about your house.”

3. Not heeding God’s truth has consequences, such as temporary suspension of His blessing upon our lives, including economy.   Disappointments fill the heart instead of contentment. 


Evening Reflection

We daily hear lies coming from all sides.  What is one lie that you heard today?  But let’s end the day with God’s truth.  What is one truth that He wants you to meditate upon right now?  “The truth shall set you free.”

November 22, Monday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Doug Tritton, was first posted on August 7, 2015.   A graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), Doug is the UC site pastor of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Sin is Crouching Out the Door”

2 Kings 5:25-27

He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.

Yesterday, we looked at this story of Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, who greedily took a gift from Naaman the Syrian, a gift that Elisha had first refused. He was unwilling to forego that gift; he felt they deserved it. Now, having taken the gift, Gehazi comes before Elisha. When asked where he had been, Gehazi lies to his master; but Elisha confronts Gehazi and calls him out for his greed. He saw through Gehazi’s lie and exposed the truth—that Gehazi had acted in self-centeredness.

So true are those words spoken by God long ago: “If you do not do well, sin is crouching out the door” (Gen. 4:7).  When we give room for sin, we just open the door for more and more sin. This is evident in the story woven by Gehazi, a story meant to deceive his master. When sin gets a hold of us, sometimes we do anything to keep it hidden—to keep up a good image.

What is the solution? Repentance! When sin gets into our hearts, it festers and breeds more sin. But when we allow the grace of God to enter, sin is plucked out like an unwanted weed. But the more we let the sin fester and grow, the deeper the root springs in our hearts and the more difficult it is to remove it. So today, let’s spend some time searching our hearts. Allow the Spirit of God to search through your heart, exposing any unconfessed sin, and let’s bring all our sin to the only One who forgives. 

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your amazing grace and mercy that covers over every sin. Let my heart be cleansed again in You today. Help me to trust in Your forgiveness rather than trying to lie and deceive to keep sin hidden. Lord, let Your light expose and remove the darkness in my heart. Come and minister to my heart today. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 9


Lunch Break Study

Read Ephesians 5:13-16: But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Questions to Consider

  1. What should we allow to be exposed by the light?
  2. How do we let the darkness in our hearts be exposed by the light?
  3. How can we walk as wise in this world?

Notes

  1. Darkness is overcome when exposed by the light. There is darkness in our hearts, darkness that has sprouted from sin, but when we bring our sin to God, bring it to the light, we find forgiveness and the darkness is immediately cast away. 
  2. Through repentance! When we awake from the sleep of sin and open our hearts to God’s merciful light, Christ shines on us with His amazing grace. Repentance often may feel heavy, feel difficult, but once we repent, there is light and joy as Christ’s love more deeply enters our hearts.
  3. Walking as wise means trusting in Christ and His forgiveness. Wisdom is shown most clearly in a humble heart that is willing to confess. This is true wisdom, humbly trusting in the grace of God. And the best use of our time is spending it with Jesus! So let’s come to Him, knowing that He is the provider of all we need.

Evening Reflection

Tonight, bring to the light any darkness that has remained hidden in your heart. Spend some time allowing God to search your heart, even the darkest corners and depths, so that His light may penetrate more fully. As you repent, allow the joy of the Lord to come and lift your soul in worship.

November 21, Sunday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 9, 2014.  

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

Dealing With a Grieving Friend Who Kept on Talking”

Proverbs 18:24b

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Many years ago, the wife a very close friend in the East Coast died of a car accident a few days before Christmas, leaving him with three small children.  Shortly afterwards, he moved back to Los Angeles where his mother worked in a flea market (the father had died two years earlier).  When we met again, he was looking for work.  Suffice it to say, he had better days.

One day, I finally organized a trip to the Getty Museum for his kids and mine.   But before leaving for his house, I prayed about what had been bothering me about him:  As we spoke on the phone several times after her passing, I noticed that my friend had a strong opinion about everything, with “THIS IS THE WAY IT IS” ring to whatever he opined.  Though I wanted to interject, asking, “What? Elaborate,” I didn’t because I remembered Proverbs 25:25: “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”  I don’t sing but I do enjoy a good intellectual discussion, but I felt I should let him vent out.  And on this day as well, I sensed that “In your thinking be adults” meant listening to my grieving friend. 

What compelled me even more to just listen was something he said as I misled him (who was driving) to the old Getty Museum in Malibu that was now closed; the new one was located some 30 miles away.  Embarrassed about my miscue I apologized, but as my friend made several turns to get back to the freeway, he just said softly, “It’s OK.”  He then resumed talking, and I was happy to listen.

The range of his topic varied from why Brita water is not pure enough to how to raise children right; from why Celion Dion is a good person for marrying her old manager to how to follow through on a golf swing.  However, while talking about how to do church right, he suddenly stopped and said, “Why am I telling this to a pastor who knows more than I do?”

Yes, my friend had a lot on his mind during those difficult days and I hope that that Saturday was a good release for him, at least for a day.  I hope he felt better knowing that he had worthy things to say that demanded attention.   Perhaps that’s one way of “mourn[ing] with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15). 

Maybe, you can be a good listener for a friend who is going through a tough time.   When he/she is finished talking, tell him/her that you are praying for him/her.  I have been praying for my friend once a week ever since.

Prayer: Lord, remind me to listen to those who are grieving until they are really done talking.  Help me to pray for them until they can sense Your comfort.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: John 8

November 20, Saturday

NEW Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI who had served as a staff at several AMI churches.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“No Worries”

Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I got into a fight with my youngest daughter Abbie last week; she’s eight.  It was concerning her Halloween costume.  She was going as Xialing, Shang Chi’s behind-kicking sister (my apologies if you’re not a Marvel fan).  We got her costume from the Disney Store, and just like all things Disney, we had to pay more for extras.  In this case, no weapons.  So my daughter asked me if I could make Xialing’s rope dart.  After looking it up on the Internet, I found out that a rope dart is nothing more than an arrowhead on the end of a 5-to-10-foot length of rope.  On a scale of ten, the difficulty in making a craft rope dart is maybe a two if I somehow lost the use of my left hand.  Some rope, red duct tape, cardboard, and 30 minutes—it’s that easy.  

On the Wednesday before Halloween, we sat down together to start making the dart head, and Abbie started questioning my plan, “Pa, are you sure you know what you’re doing?”, “Pa, I don’t think this is gonna look good.”, “Pa, I think we should use metal.”  After about three minutes of this badgering, I got up and told my girl, “Abbie, if you don’t trust that daddy can do this, then I’m not going to help you.”  Then I walked away.

Try to ignore my childishness while I explain what I was feeling.  Overall, I was a little hurt and saddened because at her core Abbie was questioning my ability to care for her and to a lesser extent my love for her.  Understand that in my house, I’m the go to person for arts and crafts (this and sports are the only arenas where the kids prefer me over mom!), and I can tell you with genuine humility that I am really good at crafts.  Even in her limited life span, Abbie has seen me make incredible school projects, over-the-top cheerleading posters, movie-prop worthy costumes, you name it.  She has no excuse not to believe that I could pull off a simple rope dart.  In fact, if anything, she should have thought this project was beneath me.  Second and more importantly, I was hurt because Abbie didn’t think I cared enough to make something awesome for her.  Look, Abbie is my last child, my baby girl; she’s the only one in the world who calls me “Pa”, and she gives the best cuddles.  She should know that her father is not going to send her to school on Halloween to face soul-eaters, the Dweller-in-Darkness, or worse yet, third grade boys without some kind of weapon.  

I don’t want to make the mistake of portraying my shortcomings and insecurities on to God, but I am willing to bet that when we worry, God feels a similar holy offense.  In essence, when we worry, don’t we doubt his ability to provide for our needs and/or his love and willingness to do so?  But this type of thinking is silly, is it not?  As Jesus pointed out, since our Heavenly Father takes care of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, doesn’t it stand to reason that He would take care of you, his beloved child, even more so?  In fact, God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  So, to paraphrase Paul in Romans 8:32, if God was willing to give us something of infinite worth like his Son, how could we think he’d be too stingy to provide anything else?  I believe with all my heart he is not going to hold out on us, and he genuinely wants what’s best for us.  So trust Him; He’s more than capable and more than willing.  

Have a great weekend everyone!  

*As a disclaimer, if you are suffering from clinical anxiety or similar difficulties, I do not mean to imply there is a faith problem.  Please see a mental health professional.  

Prayer: Heavenly Father, remind me to worry less and trust more!  Open my eyes to see that You are a wonderful provider and that I need not be given to worries of this life.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today:  John 6-7

November 19, Friday 

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on August 26, 2015.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Everyone Doing as They See Fit” 

Romans 2:10-2 (NIV)

“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one’ there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away . . .’”

We had two dogs while living in Mexico for a decade: a Labrador (“Hemi”) and a Cocker Spaniel (“Miju”).   Before returning to the States, we had found a home for Hemi, but our plan was to bring Miju with us.  Unfortunately, that never happened because one day when we returned from a short trip, Miju, whose house was in the open garage with access to the front yard, was nowhere to be found. Apparently, she had squeezed through a small gap in the fence and ran off.  (A piece of plank that was blocking it off had been slightly moved.)

Shocked by this, everyone looked for her for days but to no avail.   To fill the vacuum, especially for our youngest child, whose birthday was coming up, we purchased a puppy Basset Hound whom we named “Sadie” and brought her with us to the States.  Sadie, a lazy and affectionate dog, is now enjoying the comforts of the American life.  Sometimes, when I see the picture of Miju placed on the refrigerator, I mutter to myself, “Look at what you are missing out because you wanted to do your own thing.”

Wanting to do one’s own thing (Judg. 21:25) is what got the very first humans in trouble as well: “I am going to do this because I want to no matter what God says.”  The thrill of taking that first bite, or for Miju, the excitement of running around the streets, lasted all too briefly: no longer were they able to live in the comforts and the safety of a place provided by those who loved them.   Especially for humans, having rejected God’s way, they have thrust themselves into a world of their own making, a place full of uncertainty, confusion, and evil.  

Before viewing sin as a specific action (e.g., adultery), it ought to be seen for what it is: a mind-set that predisposes us to do our own thing, due to its apparent pleasure to the flesh, regardless of what God says. Don’t be like my dog who, for a brief moment of independence, lost out on a lifetime of care and love at the “father’s house.”  Stop and think before you step outside of God’s will. 

Prayer: Lord, I am mindful of the fact that even as you had to banish the first couple from the garden, you first clothed them with garments of skin.  In the midst of meting out your justice, you never ceased to be merciful and gracious.  Dear God, remind me, help me, and strengthen me to stay in the Father’s house.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: John 5


Lunch Break Study

Read Jeremiah 42:1-2, 7, 19, 43:1-2, 4 (ESV):  Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near 2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— . . .               7 At the end of ten days the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah .. . . 19 The Lord has said to you, O remnant of Judah, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Know for a certainty that I have warned you this day . . .            When Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people all these words of the Lord their God, with which the Lord their God had sent him to them, 2 Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there . . . 4 So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the Lord, to remain in the land of Judah.”

Questions to Consider

1. Why did Johanan and his people refuse to accept what Jeremiah told them?  On what basis did they reject it?

2. This begs the question: why did they, then, bother to ask Jeremiah to pray for them with respect to what they should o?

3. What are some decisions you are facing right now?  Have you already made up your mind and is now seeking God to bless it?  What are you going to do if that’s not what God wants you to do?

Notes

1. That’s not what they wanted to hear.  They had already made up their minds what they were going to do.   While rejecting God’s will, they never admitted it; rather, they blamed the messenger for being misinformed.  

2. They merely sought the appearance of seeking the Lord in the religious sense.  They would have 

looked very spiritual had God agreed with their pre-determined plan, but when it didn’t, it showed their real motives: they wanted to do their own thing, hoping for God to bless it. 

3. Enter into a time of seeking God’s will without having made up your mind.  Be willing to bend your will to whichever way God is leading you.   A struggle and reluctance is natural if what God wants for us is not what we want, but we must adjust our desire to obey the Lord’s will.


Evening Reflection

Reviewing this day, did you face any situation in which God’s will and yours were in conflict?  How did you resolve it?  Let’s pray for His strength to do better tomorrow. 

November 18, Thursday

REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on June 8, 2015, 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

“Don’t Set Your Own Rules” 

1 Kings 2:1-4 (ESV)

When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

When I was a child, I loved inventing new games with new rules. What was most enjoyable was the fact that I would always win because I would set the rules to benefit me. Many of us did this and think we have moved on from this, but believe it or not, many of us still do this as adults. Many times, we blame postmodern culture for the moral decline, as what is ‘right’ becomes increasingly subjective in our society. But wanting to set our own rules for our lives is not new; it is something that is inherent in us. However, when we are the ones in charge of making the rules for our own lives, we are set on a course of self-destruction.

King David knows this well. In fact, Solomon is a living testimony of his sin with Bathsheba that resulted from his flagrant disregard of the ways of the Lord. So he actually takes the last few moments of his life to relay this important truth: Keep the charge of the Lord, walk in his ways and keep his statutes so that you might prosper in all that you do. In his lifetime, he has seen the hand of the Lord upon him and the hand of the Lord against him. He has also experienced firsthand the blessing of God that comes through obedience. 

When we dig deeper, the reason we want to make our own rules rather than follow the precepts of our God is because of our pride. We think we understand ourselves better than our creator does. What we need to ultimately understand is that God is our creator who understands the inner workings of our being. He has designed us and given us statues, commandments, and rules for our benefit, because the Designer knows His design the best. 

David’s reminder to Solomon serves as an important reminder for us as well, to diligently seek to follow the laws and ways of the Lord. In order to follow the ways of the Lord, we need to actually know the ways of the Lord by vigorously studying the Word of God. As we devote our lives to this, we will increasingly see the beauty of the law of the Lord – that it is meant to protect and prosper us rather than simply restrict us.

Prayer: Father God, truly your ways are higher than my ways and your thoughts are higher than my thoughts. Help me grow in my hunger for your word and live my life in obedience to your every word. May I know the power in walking in your ways and keeping your statutes.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 4


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV): Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Question to Consider

1. What is the psalmist encouraging us to do?

2. Why is the one who delights in the law of the Lord compared to a fruitful tree?

3. Can we always expect to prosper if we follow God? 

Notes

1. The psalmist encourages us to meditate on the law of God day and night because it is for our benefit. 

2. Jesus refers a lot to fruitfulness as something that God is looking for. A tree that is planted by streams of water must be constantly receiving water for its roots and is pictured to constantly have the nutrients needed for bearing fruit. In the same way, those that delight in the law of the Lord have the necessary nutrients for living a godly life.

3. It depends on what prosperity means to you, but does not always mean “earthly” prosperity. We can be sure that those that follow the Lord and delight in His word (and obeys) will receive an abundance of treasures in heaven. But not only that, general and practical wisdom tell us that following the Word of God does indeed have temporal benefits as well.


Evening Reflection

The shocking thing of the church these days is biblical literacy. We simply do not cherish the Word of God enough. Something that challenged me in an article that I read was a statement that an Atheist made to his Christian friend – If you Christians really believe the Bible is the actual words of God, how come you don’t spend time to really study it? How come it’s so difficult to spend time reading it? What a sobering truth, but challenge to the believers to get to know the Word of God better so that we are able to follow the ways of the Lord with faithfulness. 

November 17, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional Quiet Time, provided by Christine Li, was first posted on May 27, 2015.  Christine, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, serves as a deaconess at Remnant Church in Manhattan, New York.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Tough, Loving Words”

2 Samuel 19: 7-8

Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”So the king got up and took his seat in the gateway. When the men were told, “The king is sitting in the gateway,” they all came before him. Meanwhile, the Israelites had fled to their homes.

Prov. 12:1b, 27:5

He who hates reproof is stupid . . . Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

Yesterday, we looked at this passage with the focus on King David’s willingness to accepting rebuke. Today, we will talk briefly about delivering rebuke (a touchy subject!). Though Joab spoke harshly, his bold statements against King David were not driven by a desire to elevate himself or a desire to tear down the King. He brings up the reasons for his harsh words: the feelings of the people who had been dedicated to David, and David’s safety.  (By the way, Joab didn’t always act this caring toward David.)

In our modern church, we rarely engage in rebuke. While some hesitation is borne out of wise caution (because we have seen abuse), most of us demure out of an attempt to appear tolerant and understanding. We are content to live and let live because this method saves us the time, work, and heartache of being intimately involved with someone else’s life. 

The Bible frequently mentions the task of believers to teach and admonish one another in the setting of the church (Rom. 15, Col. 3, 1 Thess. 5). However, I believe we rarely model this Biblical principle because of two reasons: (1) We do not care deeply enough about our brothers and sisters to speak into their lives, (2) We do not care enough about God’s standard of holiness for the church. Without aspiration to be pure, holy, and set apart from this world as He commands, we neglect true accountability and candidness in our relationships. 

I am not suggesting that we suddenly go around and bring up every last thing we might dislike about the people around us. The purpose is to exhort the believers around us to turn away from anything that leads away from God towards fullness of life. Rebuke should be humbly, wisely, and lovingly administered; when well-delivered and well-accepted, it is life-giving and an immense blessing (Proverbs 15:31, Psalm 141:5).

If you are very uncomfortable with the idea of offering correction, do not worry. Ask God to give you wisdom and also love for members of your community so that you can also be used as His instrument. And if you have a reputation for being harsh, now is the time to ask God for greater compassion and humility in approaching others. A house divided against itself cannot stand, but if the community is devoted to loving God and become more like Christ, teaching and submitting to one another will bring us joy. 

Prayer: Father, give me greater love for You and greater love for others. Let Your holiness be the bar I aspire to and also what I desire for others. Do not let any fear of man or lack of confidence keep me from speaking openly and honestly to those around me. May Your wisdom and a desire to bless others guide the words we speak to one another. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 3


Lunch Break Study  

Read 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.   6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Questions to Consider

1. Why is love an important component to the tasks mentioned in v. 1-3?

2. Why does Paul deliberately place v.9-12 within this section on love?

3. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” How can we really live up to exhibiting these qualities of love in our lives as a testimony of our faith?  

Notes

1. Speaking, fathoming, acting, and showing compassion do not require love to be done. Because love protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres, without it, we will quickly lose our purpose and motivations for these actions.

2. While we can learn many attributes of love from the first seven verses or even believe that we exemplify them, our understanding of love will not be truly complete until we experience the fullness of God in heaven. 

3. Take some time to reflect on your life and how you can demonstrate the love of Christ more.


Evening Reflection

Were there any moments today when you should have spoken up but felt unable to? What held you back?  One prerequisite before correcting anyone is whether we have been praying for the individual?  If you feel like you have something to say, please pray for a while before doing so.

November 16, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional is a reprint of Kate Moon’s blog originally posted on August 24, 2015.  Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Where the Humanity Has Gone?”

2 Kings 11:2-3

“But Jehosheba . . . took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered.  She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed.  He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the LORD for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.”

My mom became a grandmother last year, and the new addition to our family is the joy of her life.  There are pictures of baby Ziggy (his parents started calling him that while he was still just a zygote and the name stuck) all over the house, and though she’s tiring of traveling as she grows older, she’s already gone the length of the country twice to see him.

Grandmothers are usually known to dote on their grandchildren, but not so Queen Athaliah.  Because of her ambition to rule, once her son, the king of Judah, was dead, “she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family” (v.1) by trying to kill off all of the royal princes, among whom was her own grandson, baby Joash.  What kind of ungodly influence could be so strong that it could trump a woman’s basic instinct to nurture and protect the young?  It’s hard to imagine, yet as the country was falling more deeply into the sin of worshipping gods other than the one true God, this is the kind of event that resulted.

In contrast, however, we also see Jehosheba, his aunt, bravely rescuing Joash, believing for a better time to come.  Though the six years of rule by an evil queen may have been bleak, all the while, hope was hidden away and growing, preparing to be revealed when the time was right.  Sometimes when we look at humanity or the lack thereof in this world, at the distortion of all that was meant to be good, we wonder where the hope has gone.  But throughout history, God has always reserved hope, and in due course, the dark times do come to an end.  

Is there a situation you are looking at where you are wondering where the humanity has gone?  Appalled at the lack of common decency?  Take heart, for God has a plan, and he will not wait a moment longer than is necessary.  Even if it seems premature (Joash became king at age seven), he will bring that hope to the light as soon as the moment is right.

Prayer: Dear Lord, when times look dark, help me to place my hope in you.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 2


Lunch Break Study 

Read 2 Kings 10:25-27: “In the twelfth year of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign . . . His mother’s name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel.  He walked in the ways of the house of Ahab and did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was related by marriage to Ahab’s family.” 

Questions to Consider

1. At this time, the nation that was originally Israel was split into two kingdoms, “Israel” and “Judah.”  Jerusalem and the temple were located in Judah, so it was supposed to be the kingdom that was truer to God, yet what do we notice here?

2. Omri led the nation into further idolatry and was the father of Ahab, one of the most wicked kings in the history of Israel.  How does Athaliah’s family background help us understand her later actions?

3. What warning can we take to heart regarding the sin of idolatry and the influence it can have?  Is there idolatry in our lives that we are not dealing with because we don’t take it as seriously as we should?

Notes

1. There seemed to be no difference between Israel (ruled by the house of Ahab, described as doing evil in God’s sight) and Judah.

2. Athaliah came from a family that practiced evil and idolatry; her later slaughter of all the royal princes can be seen as the fruit of this kind of spiritual influence she had received.  

3. Worshipping other gods puts us under an evil spiritual influence that can cause us to act in less than human ways.  If there is even a hint of worship of other gods in our hearts, we need to deal with it swiftly and decisively.


Evening Reflection

Rather than adding to the darkness, was I part of the hope in the world today?  Was I decent human being?  Was God my one and only true God today?  Did I seek to be ruled and influenced by him and him alone?