December 2, Monday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional (new) is provided by Emerson Lin.  Emerson and his wife Annie (and their son) are serving as AMI missionaries in E. Asia.   

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“Disconnect to Connect with Him”

John 1:9-13 (NIV)

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

In psychology, there is a term called “inattentional blindness” where when subjects are focused on one stimulus, they completely miss out on another stimulus that was right in front of them.

One of the best-known experiments demonstrating this phenomenon is the “invisible gorilla test”. Participants were asked to watch a video of six people passing a ball to one another and to count how many times the ball was passed. In the middle of the video, a person in a gorilla costume would walk through the group. In most of the tests, 50% of the participants did not even see the gorilla. Because the people were so focused on counting the number of passes, the gorilla became invisible to them.

In this passage, John is sharing the good news of Jesus’ incarnation. The ultimate creator took on flesh so that He could be with His creation. While that sounds amazing, John explains that His creation did not even recognize Him or accept Him; however, there were some who believed Him, so He called them His children.

As I read this passage, I am reminded of how easily we can miss out on God’s presence and His voice. In today’s age, we are too busy and too distracted to spend time with our Father. As we wait on the subway, wait in line at the grocery store, or sit on the couch at home, our cell phones have taken up potential moments with Him. Our wealth allows us to enjoy more things and more activities. While they are not bad in and of themselves, they make us too busy for our Father. It’s no wonder that we, especially I, might feel that God is distant in our life. 

In John 5:17, Jesus says, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” Our heavenly Father is always working in us, around us, and through us. He desires for us to experience these moments in every aspect of our lives. However, like the “invisible gorilla test”, we miss out on these precious opportunities because we are being distracted by other worldly stimuli.

So what are some ways you can disconnect? For some, it means not checking your phone when you have moments of boredom. For others, it means limiting the number of activities you or your child participate in. For me, I made a commitment not to check my phone before I sleep and not check my phone when I wake up. We must remember that these moments are potential moments to be with our heavenly Father. 

This morning, take a moment to invite the Holy Spirit to bring to mind what are some commitments you can make to disconnect from stimuli. Remember, our God is always at work.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you that you are always at work around us and in us. However, I know I am addicted to my cell phone, Netflix, and my wealth. While these things are not bad in of themselves, they can distract me from potential time with you. Give me strength to quiet the voice of the world and make Your voice louder in my life. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 49


Lunch Break Study

Read Mark 1:35-38: 35: Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Questions to Consider

  1. To where did Jesus go early in the morning? What is significant about the location?
  2. What was the difference between Jesus’ priorities versus the disciples’ priorities?
  3. How do you begin your mornings? Are you more like the disciples or like Jesus?

Notes

  1. Jesus goes to a desolate place, away from all the busyness of His work. It is a quiet place where He can be with His Father.
  2. For Jesus, being in His Father’s company is the most important thing in His life. For the disciples, they were more focused on the “work” they had to accomplish.
  3. Personal reflection.

Evening Reflection

As you lay in bed this evening, try not to look at your cell phone. Use this precious moment to connect with Him. Meditate on John 5:17.

December 1, Sunday

Today’s QT blog was first posted on May 26, 2013.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“We All Sing”

Psalm 66:1-4 (ESV)

Shout for joy to God, all the earth; 2 sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! 3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you. 4 All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” Selah

Some worship services are conducted as if they are some sort of spectator sports: while people on stage perform (singing songs that are, frankly, not very suited for congregational praise), those sitting in the pew merely watch!  But the praise unto the Lord is to be offered by everyone!  

Here, praise is presented to God from the whole earth (vv. 1-4).  God is God of the whole earth and all the peoples of the earth should acknowledge him as God and be thankful.  Singing and the role of worship is natural for Christians.  

The world sometimes sings too, but not in the same way or for the same reasons.  Singing requires a certain amount of emotion. When there is joy, singing follows naturally, and that is why Christians have always been a singing people.  We can’t help but praise God; for He is a great God who has redeemed us from our sin.  

Let’s start this day with our focus on God.  Let’s join all of creation in acknowledging what God has done for us personally.  

Prayer:  Father, I praise You on this Lord’s Day.  Let all the peoples of the earth worship You for who You are and what You’ve done.  Give me a heart of praise so that I too may sing praises to Your name.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 48

November 30, Saturday

Today’s blog—prepared by a staff at Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, California—was first posted on July 7, 2013.

 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Head Knowledge to Obedience—Now, that’s Wisdom”

James 1:23-25 (NIV)

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

What is wisdom? Wisdom comes not in just the knowing, but in the doing. For many of us, the level of our knowledge has drastically outgrown the level of our obedience. We want to learn more about God. We want to learn about church history, the different theological camps of Christianity today, and the different doctrines and beliefs that people hold. We read books after books about God and we love to discuss with one another our beliefs and the latest articles we read on grace, freedom, or the love of God.

Now, don’t get me wrong; these aren’t bad things. But we must be careful not to leave our level of obedience stuck in the elementary level; we must grow in obedience as we grow in our knowledge of God. James says the people that just hear the word but don’t do it are like those who look in the mirror and after they’ve looked away, forget what they look like (James 1:23-25). How foolish that sounds! These people only hear the word, but their lives don’t reflect the obedience that should follow after hearing the word. 

Imagine it like this: If I were to read a book on how to fly an airplane, hear several world class pilots speak about the challenges they overcame to become pilots, and even be really convicted about their experiences as a pilot, I would still not be considered a pilot. In the same way, the Christian life cannot just be reading books on how to be a Christian, or hearing people speak about their history with the Lord. It’s not even enough to be just convicted during a sermon. The Christian life requires obedience; it requires application. Your history with God cannot come from anybody else but yourself, and that history develops with a growing heart of obedience to the word of God.

Let’s face it. It’s easy to learn things and have ever-increasing head knowledge, but it is extremely difficult to obey God when he calls us to do something difficult.  But praise be to God, who gives wisdom abundantly to his people who ask, so that we not only grow in our knowledge and understanding of God, but in obedience and wisdom as well. Ask the Lord for wisdom daily, and believe that he will give it generously to you.

Prayer: Lord, help me to avoid being enamored with merely accumulating knowledge and be a wise guy whom no one can stand.  Help me to be a doer, an obedient servant to whatever has been revealed to me from your Word. Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 46-47

November 29, Friday

Today’s AMI QT blog—prepared by several staff at Kairos Christian Church in San Diego (Cal)—was first posted on July 13, 2013.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“We Cannot Lose”

Psalm 76:10-12

“Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared. 12 He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth.”

We are particularly fearful of making commitments.  Whether it be as silly as signing up for a potluck or as serious as choosing a career path, we tend to delay making a commitment as much as possible, hoping to eliminate risk and guarantee an experience and outcome that we are sure to enjoy.  But in light of God’s greatness and power, the psalmist calls us to a radical commitment to God in fulfilling our vows and bringing Him gifts.  

While specific outcomes may not be guaranteed, we may be certain that God will receive glory when we obey Him.  While suffering and disappointment may not be avoided, we are assured that our God is always and absolutely worthy of all honor and praise.  Though we may not obtain the future which we have envisioned, we have a certain hope that when we lose our lives for Him, our God is faithful and true to give us everlasting joy in His very presence.  To put it another way, we cannot lose!

This morning, take a moment to consider the things that are not certain in the coming day, but also consider the things that are absolutely certain and guaranteed by God Himself.

Prayer: Father, I come to You with many fears and with much uncertainty in my life.  I am tempted to try to control my future and find it difficult to trust that You will truly take care of me and my family.  But You are glorious, O God, and You are good to me. Help to me see again Your greatness and beauty. May I hear Your voice today and obey promptly and wholeheartedly, regardless of the cost.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 45


Lunch Break Study

Read James 2:14-17 (NIV): What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 

Questions to Consider

  1. What is produced in the life of those who place their faith in God?
  2. How does faith respond to those who are poor and in need?
  3. Ask God for opportunities this week to put your faith into action.  

Notes

  1.  James’s words have sparked a tremendous debate. Is James really denying salvation by faith? Is he really suggesting that salvation can be secured only by producing good works? The answer to these questions is a resounding “No!” James was not denying salvation by faith; he was not advocating salvation by works. James believed firmly in salvation by faith, but he believed just as firmly that saving faith inevitably shows up in good works. Paul’s teaching about faith and works focuses on the time before conversion, and James’ focus is after conversion. John Calvin says, “It is faith alone that justifies, but faith that justifies can never be alone.”
  2. James adds an example to make it very clear of what he is talking about. He paints a picture of a Christian brother or sister in real need. It is not that he does not have nice clothes, but that he does not have enough clothing to keep warm and decent. It is not that he does not have any food for the rest of the week, but that he does not have anything to eat for that day. What does his fellow-Christian do? He or she says a prayer saying, “Go, I wish you well; Go in peace”- which is a blessing.  Also saying, “Keep warm and well fedmakes this a specific blessing. It is pious, full of faith—that God will provide, and very religious. It is also theologically correct. What it lacks is this fellow Christian actually going to his own closet and pantry, getting out his own clothing and food, and sharing it with his brother or sister. Because of this lack of real faith in action, James says that such a prayer is totally useless, as well as all forms of faith which are not accompanied by action.
  3. Personal response


Evening Reflection

Reflect on the blood of Jesus Christ which allows us to meet God’s presence and worship Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for saving me through Your Son Jesus Christ. Help me now to place this faith into action by caring for others. Amen.

November 28, 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 Today

“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: Isaiah 44


Lunch Break Study

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 27, Wednesday

Today’s devotional, prepared by Pastor Jason Sato, was originally posted on November 6, 2014.  He and his wife Jessica (along with their three young children) recently moved to Japan to serve as missionaries. 

 

Devotional Thought for Today

“Not Evolution, but By God’s Wisdom”

Proverbs 3:19-20

The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; [20] by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.

Nowadays, evolution rules: humans are byproducts of an undirected natural process without either plan or purpose.  It certainly is a politically correct view but is not very wise because it is by wisdom the Lord founded the earth and established the heavens (v. 19).  Wisdom, not random chance, brought life and order out of chaos.  The wisdom of God did not just inaugurate creation, but it was active in the ancient flood and continues to sustain and shape the creative order (v. 20).  The wisdom of God is interwoven into creation and even history.  

Even as I consider something as small as my own life, there are many things I don’t understand.  I often wonder why things are the way they are. Why do things change so slowly? Why is my family generationally Buddhist rather than generationally Christian?  Why am I so short? Ha-ha.

Our passage reminds us that there is a God who shaped the heavens and the earth and He is wise beyond our understanding.  The One who created all things is the One who sustains all things and continues to shape all things.

We tend to not handle mystery very well.  So when questions arise, we are tempted to spend all of our energy determining exactly what God is doing.  Often, we end up finding ourselves unable to think of any explanation that satisfies us; perhaps, we doubt God can either.  

Our passage today invites us to lay these futile quests aside and simply trust God who has created us for a purpose (Eph. 2:10).  Furthermore, God, who knows the stars by name, certainly knows the hearts of His children. The God of wisdom founded the earth and He is able to work all things for our good.  Go to Him and entrust the many questions and mysteries of your life to His care.

Prayer: Father, there are many things that I don’t understand and I’m thankful that there is a God who does.  In the midst of confusion, give me grace to hold on to the rock that is Your Son. I know that You love me, and I trust in Your faithful care.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 43


Lunch Break Study  

Read Job 38:4-7: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. [5] Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? [6] On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, [7] when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Questions to Consider

  1. What does our passage tell us about God?
  2. What does our passage tell us about man?
  3. What response should this passage elicit?  What if we add our knowledge of the cross?

Notes

  1. God is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and glorious.
  2. Man has a brief lifespan, finite power, and very limited knowledge.
  3. The passage elicits fear and awe.  When the grace and love of God are added to this, we are compelled to both worship and trust.

Evening Reflection

Were you able to recognize God’s wisdom in how He has shaped your life today?  What questions arose in your heart about your circumstances or life today? Take these questions to the Lord.

November 26, Tuesday

Today’s devotional, written by Cami King was originally posted on November 17, 2014.  Cami now serves as a staff at Remnant Church in Manhattan.

 

Devotional Thought for Today

Proverbs 10:4, 26

The one who is lazy becomes poor, but the one who works diligently becomes wealthy . . . 26 Like vinegar to the teeth and like smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him.

Martin Luther once said, “The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays – not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.” 

We live in a culture where we are taught, most of us anyway, to work hard. We’re socially inoculated with axioms to keep us working diligently like, “Hard work pays off” or “The early bird gets the worm.” And most of us wait expectantly for the pay off – our paycheck at the end of the week, a promotion at the end of the year, recognition at the end of a project, a successful child at the end of adolescence. We chirp, chirp with mouths open wide awaiting the worm for which we’ve worked so hard. 

We are a hardworking, results oriented people. And for most of us, the motivation behind our work and the result that we seek is some kind of material gain. But today we learn from Martin Luther that there is reward beyond the material. God delights in good work, in a job well done. He relishes in a good product, not because of how much money we can make from it, but because of the good in the product itself. 

Very few of us have been taught to simply value a job well done – good craftsmanship, thorough research, comprehensive reports, faithful service – not for what it can do for us, but for the good in the thing itself. Yes, hard work can make us physically wealthy, but it can also bring us great spiritual riches as we experience the pleasure of God. 

Today, may we do our best at what we do, even the things that may not yield the greatest gain or that may go unseen, knowing that our heavenly father delights in a job well done. And his delight is an invaluable reward.  

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You have sent me into the world to be a light and a blessing. May my faithfulness in even the most menial tasks be pleasing unto You and a blessing to those around me. 

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 42


Lunch Break Study 

Slaves comprised the labor force in Paul’s day. Therefore, from his comments to them, we can learn how we, as participants in the labor force in our society, are to conduct ourselves. 

Read Colossians 3:22-24: Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Questions to Consider

  1. What do we learn from verses 22-23 about the manner in with which we should do our jobs? 
  2. How does considering of your job as “working for the Lord” change your perspective, and how you do things? 
  3. In what ways does verse 24 encourage you? 

Notes

  1. The key words here are “sincerity” and “reverence.” We should be sincere in our efforts which leads to consistency – no matter who is looking, a sincere worker works faithfully. We should also work with reverence for God – no matter the task, we work to honor our Heavenly Father.
  2. For some of us, this reality will make us less self-centered in our work. For others of us, this reality may make us more faithful and less likely to cut-corners or do mediocre work. Whatever it may be for you, try to grasp the reality that it is God we are serving, not the people we work for. 
  3. Our inheritance in Christ is secured regardless of the work we do. We don’t have to work to get things from God – Jesus has done all the work for us. This should free us to do good work for the joy of doing it and for the privilege of serving God – not just for the self-centered purpose of meeting our needs. With that said, the Bible does seem to suggest that there is even more in store for those who faithfully serve the Lord in all they do. 

Evening Reflection 

How did the passages for today challenge you? Did you experience the pleasure of God as you worked diligently today? Pray and ask God for the faithfulness to serve Him in all you do, not just for a material reward, but because there is eternal value in a job well-done.