May 5, Wednesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional is a reprint of Kate Moon’s blog originally posted on December 31, 2014.  Kate continues to serve the Lord in E. Asia. 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

Proverbs 31:10-12, 29

“A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.  11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life . . . 29 ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’”

“27 yrs old, 5 ft 3, female.  College grad; art major.  Monthly salary: 2500 RMB ($400).  Good-looking.”  So read the hundreds of letter-sized flyers posted along the walls near the entrance of the park.  It is  Saturday afternoon, and the area is full of men and women in their late 30s and 40s milling around looking for spouses… for their children.

The infamous “marriage market” of Shanghai.  Parents used to stand around holding these signs advertising the more desirable qualities of their yet unwed offspring.  Other parents would come up to express interest; phone numbers would be exchanged.  Now it seems in an effort to be more civilized, the signs are posted on a wall in orderly fashion, and sometimes even the younger people will come by to take a look for themselves.  

What qualities to look for in a spouse?  The Bible doesn’t say directly, but it does say that if a man ends up finding a wife of noble character, he has found a treasure.  What man wouldn’t want a wife he could be fully confident in?  Proud of (v. 11)?  A wife who will bring him good and not harm, not just temporarily, but for a lifetime (v. 12)? This is what a woman of noble character can be to a man.

What woman wouldn’t want to hear her husband say that there are no other women who compare to her?  That to him, she is the best (v. 29)?  What woman wouldn’t want to know that her husband feels so lucky to have her because she is such a rare find (v. 10)?  This is the love and regard that a noble woman can bring out in a man.

Those looking for wives, look for true value.  Those looking to be wives, develop a noble character.  Those who are wives, continue to be noble.  Those who have wives, treasure and honor the noble qualities in your spouse.

Prayer: Lord, help me this day to value the things your word tells me is important to value in people.  Help me to value and honor noble character, in myself and in others.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Proverbs 31:25-27, 30: “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness . . . 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Describe a wife of noble character in your own words (vv. 25-27).
  2. What are not necessarily the qualities of a wife of noble character?  What kind of a woman should be praised (v. 30)?
  3. What qualities do I value more in others?  What qualities do I spend more time investing in developing in myself?

Notes

  1. She is not an insecure woman but one with a strong sense of self and her worth.  She does not worry about the future, but not in a foolish, careless way.  When she speaks, the content of her speech is quality content, not empty chatter.  She is responsible, hardworking and not lazy.
  2. Being charming or beautiful.  One who respects God and lives her life to honor Him.  If you encounter someone of noble character today, consider praising that person, giving a word of encouragement.
  3. In others, am I attracted more by charm and appearance or inner character?  In the mornings, do I spend more time preparing to present my outward appearance to people than I do preparing my heart to meet them as I spend time praying and meditating on God’s word?

Evening Reflection

Was I a person of noble character today?  Did I look for and encourage those qualities in others?  How were my words?  What is the state of my household affairs?  Did I make the best use of my time today?

May 4, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on December 19, 2014.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

“Numbering Our Days”

Proverbs 27:1 

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

About a year ago, as I was sitting through a funeral service, I was reminded of how short our lives were in comparison to eternity.  Moments like these are always a good reminder that God has numbered our days; and because of this reality, we should live wisely and according to His ways.  

This proverb warns against overconfidence concerning the future.  Boasting in the future means that one thinks he/she has control over the future, and this is the way of the foolish.  One commentator said, “A wise person must not speak nor plan as if he himself had full disposal of his destiny and power over his future.”  The wise live day-by-day, trusting the outcome to God and being grateful for whatever may happen.   James 4:14-16 says it like this: “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’  As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”

Are you overconfident when it comes to your plans, dreams and future?  In light of our lives being a momentary mist, are you doing your best to live wisely and for His purposes?  Spend time in prayer, completely surrendering your future to Him.  Pray that you would make your life count for Jesus alone.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the reminder that my life is nothing more than a mist, that is here one minute and gone the next.  Help me to live for your glory and kingdom with the time I have on this earth.  Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today:  Revelation 2


Lunch Study Break

Read Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? [26] Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? [27] And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? [28] And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, [29] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. [30] But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? [31] Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ [32] For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. [33] But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.[34] “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Questions to Consider

  1. When it comes to the area of worry, what is the main issue Jesus is pointing to?
  2. What is the solution to anxiety over our future?
  3. How can we be comforted by this passage?

Notes

  1. The reason why we get anxious about our life and future is because we lack faith.   We lack faith that God’s ways are best and that He will provide for us in His time.  
  2. The way that we overcome worry is by making His kingdom the highest priority (v. 33).  We seek His kingdom and trust that He will add things that we need.
  3. We can be assured that God knows and cares for our every need.  He desires us to trust Him and to seek the things of His kingdom.  

Evening Reflection

Devote some time in prayer.  Remember His great promises for you and continue to trust Him with every circumstance in your life.  He is a gracious heavenly Father who knows us and loves us.

May 3, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 31, 2014.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

Philem. 1:23b-5 

“. . . sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.  25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

In a church where the pastor believed in the training method of sink or swim, more than twenty of us, all under the age of 25, without much formal training, served in this growing Korean congregation.  How passionate and assured of what we were taught and believed back then!  Some 30 years later however, many of us have become more like a Demas than a Mark.    

Demas was not only a believer but a “minister” as well, since Paul called him, “My fellow worker.”

Perhaps well-known to the Colossians, he is mentioned again in Paul’s letter to them written in 61.  A lot can change in a few years and it certainly did for Demas.  In Paul’s last epistle, written in 66 or 67, he wrote, “For Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica” (2 Tim. 4:10a).  Even without graphic images readily available on the internet and a volatile market that, on a good day, can make you a millionaire, the Hellenist world back then was just as alluring to the flesh as the modern world is today.  And Demas, despite all those times he spent on praying, studying the Scriptures, and preaching the gospel, succumbed to it (1 Cor. 10:12).  

Similarly, several young men, who used to serve with me, are no longer in the ministry; some have even abandoned their faith.   But there is a hope, because we believe in a God who redeems sinners and quitters and everyone in between.  Peter sinned when he denied knowing Jesus, but he was eventually restored.  Mark quit the first missionary trip led by Paul, who, still upset, rejected him when he was hoping to be included in the second trip (Acts 13:13, 15:36-40).  Yet, some 15 years later, Paul wrote to Timothy, “Get Mark . . . because is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11).  God had so restored this one time quitter, that Mark ended up writing the first gospel.  

So if you feel like a Demas today, don’t lose hope!  With our God, any moment can be the beginning of a comeback, all the way to redemption and being useful for the Lord.  

Prayer: Dear Father, I get so discouraged at times because of my constant shortcomings and failures.  How many times have I told myself, “It’s over; there is no way God will ever take me back.”  Nevertheless, I’m encouraged by how Peter and Mark made a comeback in their faith because you never abandoned them. I know that you will hold onto me as well, to see that I succeed in my faith journey.  Thank you.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 1


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Cor. 10:12: “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).  

Prov. 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

2 Tim. 2:22: “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

Rev. 2:5:Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”

Questions to Consider

  1. We know that the lure of the world is formidable, but what attitude on our part makes us even more vulnerable to it?
  2. What are some ways to avoid being tempted by the world?
  3. What is the first step toward spiritual recovery?

Notes

  1. A false aura of invincibility that causes us to take lightly potentially compromising situations is always dangerous.  When we frequently step into an area known to have many mines buried, soon or later, we are going to step into one.
  2. Of course, there is no sure way, but one way is fleeing from it.  This doesn’t mean hiding yourself away in a high mountain, waiting for the Lord’s return.  It does mean getting rid of things in our lives that serve as a pipeline to sinning.  It could be cable television, unhealthy relationship, clubbing, etc.
  3. Repentance.  It is turning from sinful ways in order to shift to God’s way. 

Evening Reflection

As you look back to this day, what temptation did you face?  How did you handle it?  What’s the best way for you not to yield to the lures of this world?  Ask God for strength for a better tomorrow. 

May 2, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is an updated version of AMI QT Devotional first posted on August 6, 2013.kk

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Jesus, I Welcome You.”

Luke 2:28-29

“He took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word.”

What would it have been like for Simeon to be given a promise from “the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (v. 26) and actually get to hold Jesus in his arms?  For Simeon, his life on this earth would never come to an end until God’s promise was fulfilled.  What a life!  There are more things in life that may not happen in your lifetime.  Do you have things that you want to ask God to do before your time on this earth is finished?

Michael Card applied Simeon’s Song of Luke 2:28-29 in the following way: “Now it is time to take Him in your arms and your life will never come to an end.”  When you welcome (receive) the Son of God in your life, your life will never come to an end, but have eternal life.  As matter of fact, God gives you “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).  

Assuming that you have already accepted Jesus into your life, is there an area in your life that you are still hesitant to welcome Jesus into?

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I welcome you into all areas of my life.  Come and take total control of every aspect of my existence.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Obadiah 1

May 1, Saturday

UPDATED Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, written by Pastor Young Kim of Grace Covenant Church in Philadelphia, was originally posted on June 15, 2013.  Young is a graduate of University of Illinois (BS), Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Westminster Theological Seminary (MA). 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“A Gentle Answer”

Proverbs 15:1 

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

This is a no-brainer, right? But, in practice, we continue to ignore this precept!  

Lord, help me to apply this truth. 

As for me, I have gotten into arguments with my wife because I did not apply this verse.  I am a fool. 

Men, be gentle with your words.  Be thoughtful in what you say and how you address your wife.  Sisters, be gentle with your words to the brothers.  We get defensive because you get offensive. I have seen unnecessary arguments start because we ignore this truth in my family. 

How about you? “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).  

Prayer: Jesus, help me to speak gently to those I love.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Haggai 1-2

April 30, Friday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on November 26, 2013.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Can We Commit the Sin of Idolatry?”

Psalm 115:1-18

[1] Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

[2] Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”

[3] Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.

[4] Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.

[5] They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.

[6] They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell.

[7] They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.

[8] Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.

[9] O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield.

[10] O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield.

[11] You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield.

[12] The LORD has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron;

[13] he will bless those who fear the LORD, both the small and the great.

[14] May the LORD give you increase, you and your children!

[15] May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth!

[16] The heavens are the LORD’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.

[17] The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence.

[18] But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the LORD!

What do you think about when you hear the word “idolatry”? In today’s world, we might think of worship of pagan gods or exalting high profile people but if we look at our hearts, we often worship idols all the time.  John Calvin said: “The human heart is an idol factory. . . . Every one of us from our mother’s womb is an expert in inventing idols.” 

Each of us has invented and worshipped false, failing saviors.  Although these things may not necessarily be bad things in and of themselves, such as sex, food, comfort, approval, success, etc., they are never meant to replace God.  When we do put them at the center of our lives, it leads to dissatisfaction. 

In Psalm 115, the writer states that idols are only objects made by human hands; hence, they are less significant than those who made them, even if they are made of precious metals such as silver or gold (vv.4-7).  The turning point in the Psalm is in v.9 where the writer states that only the God of Israel is trustworthy and He is their help, not any man- made idol.  It is the Lord who blesses, but those who put their trust in idols or false gods will be disappointed because they are nothing and can do nothing.  The Psalm ends with encouraging words to worship the God of heaven and to remember His greatness.

What are the idols in your heart?  Lay them down as you pray and worship Him this morning.  Ask the Lord that he would be the highest priority in your life because only He is worthy of our worship. 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for having given me the strength and willingness to break away from the sin of idolatry; now I just got to do it!  Help me, Lord.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 52


Lunch Break Study

Read Mark 10:17-25: And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” [18] And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. [19] You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” [20] And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” [21] And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” [22] Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.[23] And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” [24] And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! [25] It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Why did Jesus ask the rich young ruler to give up his possessions?
  2. How can we break from the idols in our lives?
  3. Do you resemble the young ruler in any way?  If so, how?

Notes

  1. Not all of us will be asked to sell everything that we have, but all of us are commanded to set aside any idols that may be present in our lives. Jesus meets with a rich young ruler whose confidence is derived from his wealth and status, instead of God. Jesus tells him to go and sell all of his possessions because He knew that this man loved material things more than God.  Not wanting to heed this advice, the young man went away because he was unwilling to cease his idolatry.
  2. The way we can break away from the idols in our lives it to see the beauty and majesty of Jesus.  Upon seeing the incomparable greatness of our Lord, we will then realize how small and insignificant our idols truly are.   Spend time meditating on his greatness and ask God to break the idols in your life.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

If we look to some created thing to give us the meaning, hope and happiness that only God himself can give, it will eventually fail to deliver and break our hearts.  –Tim Keller

What you treasure will ultimately require you to die for it; Jesus is the only treasure that died for you.  –Tim Keller

Jesus is the only one that can give us freedom from our idols.  Remember the words of Paul in Galatians 5:1: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  Give thanks to Jesus and the freedom he gives to all who put their trust in Him.

April 29, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by then (2013) staff of Remnant Westside Church in Manhattan, was first posted on September 17, 2013.  

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“How Do You View God?”

Psalm 89:5-7

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! 6 For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, 7 a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?

As the psalmist observes the created work of the heavens, he catches a glimpse of the wonder of God and extols His uniqueness and glory.  In the assembly of the holy ones, God stands apart as the Creator of all.  This revelation, flowing from a critical examination of God’s created work, through the lens of faith, produces amazement and awe.

There is a saying that familiarity breeds contempt. Too many times, we make God too familiar and forget that He is wonderful and amazing. When we take a step back from looking at God through the lens of familiarity and remember that God created the wonders of the sunset, the stars in the sky, the birds of the air, and all of creation with his Word, and yet stoops down and meets with us, we open ourselves to see with more clarity that God is great. 

This morning, our text is calling us to be reawakened to how we view God. Does God seem mundane, ordinary, and familiar? Observe the wonders of creation and let God reveal to you how wonderful He is.

Prayer:  Dear Jesus, I praise you today because you have won me and have broken every chain that I have had. I rejoice in your great Name as my Conqueror, for you, who conquered the grave, have rescued me. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Jeremiah 51


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 2:25-30: I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

Questions to Consider

  1. Consider how Paul describes Epaphroditus (v. 25). What does that tell you about Christian partnership?
  2. Contrast the life of Epaphroditus with the teachings of the prosperity gospel.
  3. Is there a specific missionary that you or your church supports? In what ways can you tangible encourage him or her?

Background tidbit:Epaphroditus was a messenger through whom the Philippians sent a financial gift to Paul (Phil. 4:18). He stayed with Paul for a time but returned to Philippi with Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Notes

  1. As mentioned yesterday, Epaphroditus is set as an example to the Philippians. And here we get a glimpse of how Epaphroditus has been working out his salvation.
  2. Paul highlights in verse 30 that Epaphroditus almost died for the work of Christ, and because of that, Epaphroditus should be honored by the Philippians. Contrary to the health and wealth “gospel,” the loss of life and health, as one seeks to live for the Lord, is not a curse, but rather a commendation worthy of honor and respect!
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

Ps. 5:11-12: “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.”

Dear God, I rely on Your presence as my Conqueror, everywhere I go and in everything I do; for You not only rescued me but You stand ahead of me and at my side, guarding, protecting, and looking out for me, as I simply live for Your glory here on the earth.  Jesus, You chose to sacrifice everything, even Your very life in my defense, paying such a great price so that I could live. Thank You! 

Declare what it means for you to always have the great Protector guarding over your life.

April 28, Wednesday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on January 30, 2014, is provided by Pastor Ryun Chang.

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Wrestling of a Different Kind”

Philem. 1:22

“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.”

Col. 4:12

“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”

Really talented people may not be particularly caring, while truly caring people may not be most gifted.  If you can invite only one person for an upcoming trip, who would you ask?  I guess it depends on the nature of the trip:  to close a deal, the talented one; a personal journey, the caring one.  Better yet would be a friend who embodies both characteristics, perhaps like Epaphras.

The Colossian Church was one congregation that Paul did not plant; in fact, Colossians had “not met [Paul] personally” (Col. 2:1).  The person who founded the church in this Asia Minor city was Epaphras from whom they “learned” the gospel (Col. 1:6-7).  Apparently, this man was quite talented, or at least very energetic, since Paul stated that Epaphras was “working hard . . . for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis” as well (Col. 4:13). 

On top of that, he deeply cared for the Colossian believers since he wrestled, that is, agonized (from the Gk. agōnizomai) in prayer from them.  Just how much did he care for them?   Enough to travel over 900 miles from Colosse to Rome (and then back) to get some answers from his mentor Paul for troubling doctrinal matters (Col. 2:16-23) that threatened his congregations.  That’s dedication and a lot of care.

During the course of our faith journey, everyone gets discouraged from time to time.  So, be an Epaphras: a caring person who agonizes in prayer for the discouraged and is willing to pay them a visit.    And when someone is questioning his faith because of doubts, whether theological or intellectual, may you be like Epaphras, who “researched” hard to find apt answers so that the doubter may be “mature and fully assured” in their walk. 

And when you are the one going through a difficult period, may an Epaphras be sent to you, to pray for and instruct you, so that you “may stand firm in all the will of God.”  May you be loving enough to give and humble enough to receive. 

Prayer: Father, I confess that I have been selfish and uncaring, thinking almost exclusively of meeting my own needs than those of others around me.  Thank You for always forgiving me and giving me other chances to serve You and Your people.  Please hold me accountable, Lord, to be real in my walk with you.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 50


Lunch Break Study

By the time Paul went to Corinth alone, he was tired and beaten from his tough second missionary trip. 

Read Acts 18:1-3: “After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them”; Acts 18:18a: Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila.”

Rom. 16:3-4:Greet Priscillaand Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me.  Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. . . .”

Questions to Consider

  1. What did it mean for Paul to meet Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth?
  2. Use your imagination here: In what sense did Priscilla and Aquila risk their lives for Paul?
  3. How were their talents instrumental in caring for Paul?   Are you using yours to do the same for someone in need?

Notes

  1. Paul was weary from nonstop traveling, constant persecution, and probably not eating well.  Staying at this couple’s home meant Paul could recuperate and be recharged (e.g., home cooking) for the next mission.
  2. The risk of accompanying Paul meant that at any moment, his friends (like Priscilla and Aquila) could be persecuted along with the apostle.  Since the trips were often difficult and demanding, that also carried its risks. 
  3. The fact that they had the same trade (making tents) likely aided their initial acquaintanceship, and working together certainly forged  a lifelong relationship.   As a result, Paul was greatly helped.

Evening Reflection

Review your day in light of this morning’s theme: Did you get to use your talent to care and love someone?  Did anyone do that for you?  Write up a brief journal of you day.

April 27, Tuesday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, was first posted on April 27, 2013.  He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“When Our Belly Clings to the Earth, Our Souls Cling to the Cross”

Psalms 44:25-26 (NIV)

25 We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground.  26 Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love.

The writer of Psalm 44 had counted on God to bring his people victory, but instead they experienced terrible defeat. The psalmist protests: “[We] had not been false to your covenant,” (v17) yet, “for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered” (44:22).  Now, their bodies “cling to the ground,” a posture of despair and desperate prayer. 

Why doesn’t the psalmist just give up on God?  Why does he continue to pray?  We find the answer in the last verse: “Redeem us because of your unfailing love.” “Unfailing love” is the translation from the Hebrew word hesed, which one writer translates as “the consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constantly-pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, furious love of God.”

There are times we might question why God has let us down; perhaps even doubt whether God is there. Yet we must continue to pray because God has demonstrated his love for us, especially on the cross. When we prostrate ourselves on the ground in desperate prayer, we remember the one whose body was bruised and battered for us.  As the writer Mark Roberts puts it, “When our belly clings to the earth, our souls cling to the cross.”

In desperate and discouraging times, let us keep on praying.  Our God is loving and He is faithful!   

Prayer: Father, help me to remain faithful.  Lord, I have seen Your faithfulness.  I have seen Your provision and incredible display of Your love.  But sometimes, it seems as though You are so far away. I don’t know why You don’t answer my prayers or if You even hear them.  In those times, help me to persist in prayer, cling to the wondrous cross.  I also pray for those who I know are in desperate situations.  I ask that you would hear their prayers and reveal your unfailing love to them.  In Jesus’ name, I pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Jeremiah 49


Lunch Break Study

Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV): Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why can we enter the Most Holy Place (i.e. God’s presence) with confidence? (v19-21)
  2. Along with a sense of confidence, how should we draw near to God? (v22)
  3. What are three ways that we can cling to the hope we have? (vv23-25)

Notes

  1. We can enter God’s presence with confidence for three main reasons:
  • The blood of Jesus (which covers our sins and reveals God’s sacrificial love for us)
  • By the “new and living way opened for us.”  The author of Hebrews equates the body of Jesus with the curtain dividing the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple.  When Jesus’ body was sacrificed for us, the curtain which separated us from God was also torn down.  There are no more barriers!
  • Jesus is the “great priest over the House of God” as well as our great intercessor and advocate.  We are accepted in him, helped by him, and belong to him.
  1. Unlike the priests of old, who had to be ritually cleansed on the outside through washing, etc., before they could enter the Holy of Holies, we are to make sure we are cleansed on the inside.  We are to have “sincere hearts,” which is made possible only as we trust in the sacrifice of Jesus inside of our hearts.  
  2. The author of Hebrews suggests three ways we can hold fast to the hope that we have:
  • By personally professing our faith to ourselves and also to others (v23)
  • By considering ways to spur others toward love and good deeds (v24)
  • By making Christian community a priority (v25) 

According to the author of Hebrews, we discover that that our confidence in God and our  faithfulness to God come primarily from external sources: First, from the work of Jesus as the one who loves us, opens the way for us and helps us; and second, from the encouragement of others!  We are not meant to struggle alone.  When we pray, we can pray with confidence that Jesus is already interceding for us.  And even as we pray, we are to be lifted up in prayers by our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Our primary role is to place ourselves where we can encourage others and also be in turn encouraged by Christ and his church.


Evening Reflection

Think of the ways that you are trying to walk this Christian journey alone:  How involved are your brothers and sisters in your walk with Christ?  How involved are you in encouraging others toward love and good deeds?  Journal about the ways that you can make your faith less about you, and more about Jesus’ faithfulness and encouraging your brothers and sisters in Christ.

April 26, Monday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor David Kwon who heads Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, was first posted on June 12, 2014.  He is a graduate of Drexel University (BS) and Columbia International University (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Overseers”

1 Timothy 3:8-13

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. [9] They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. [10] And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. [11] Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. [12] Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. [13] For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

As we looked at yesterday, Paul is continuing his qualifications for leaders.  The passage turns from “overseers” – who are considered the senior leaders or pastors – to “deacons,” which means servants.   All Christians are called to serve one another, and this especially applies to those in leadership positions. Here is what one pastor writes about these verses:

“Here Paul explains the function of the deacon, and two things will result when the service of a deacon is done correctly. First, it will create a great sense of appreciation on the part of the congregation–deacons will have excellent standing for themselves. Their own ministry will be widely received and appreciated. We ought to be careful to be aware of all those who are serving a congregation, and, every now and then, there ought to be some way of recognizing them. It is right that we should give thanks and not take for granted those who so diligently and faithfully serve week after week. They are not being paid, and they are not hired to do this work; they are volunteering it in the name of Christ. That should earn for them a great sense of appreciation on the part of the congregation.”  -Ray Stedman

This pastor’s commentary reminded me of how thankful we should be for the people who serve in our ministries.  There are many in our churches that give countless number of hours and enormous amount of energy serving others, and ultimately, serving Jesus.  Take some time to lift up in prayer the leaders in your various ministries, and thank the Lord for them and their dedication.  

Prayer: Lord, thank you for all the leaders and volunteers in each of our churches.  May we never take them for granted and may you encourage those who serve you.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 49


Lunch Break Study 

Read Philippians 1:3-6: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, [4] always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, [5] because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. [6] And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Questions to Consider 

  1. Why is Paul thanking God in these verses?
  2. What does it show us about gospel partnerships?
  3. Are we thankful for the gospel relationships we have in our lives?  

Notes

  1. Paul begins his letter by thanking God for gospel relationships.  From the very start of his ministry in Philippi, 
  2. It seems that Paul’s special relationship with the church there was inevitable. What caused Paul the deepest satisfaction was the Philippians’ “partnership in the gospel.” He was grateful and filled with joy over the frequent evidences of the Philippians’ sharing in the work of the gospel. These had been shown to him “from the first day” he had preached the gospel in Philippi, which was about ten years before. 
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

We have been thanking the Lord today for leaders and partners in the gospel.  Let’s always be reminded of these gospel relationships and always praise God for them.